A Scottish theatrical stage and costume designer, Zinkeisen was best known for her work in theatrical design.
Born in Argyll the family moved to Pinner, London when she was 11 years old. After four years at the Harrow School of Art she won a scholarship to the Royal Academy Schools in 1917 – together with her younger sister Anna, also an artist. The two of them shared a studio in London during the 1920s and 1930s, where Doris developed her realist style. This made her popular as both a portrait painter and as an illustrator and commercial artist, producing advertising posters for railway companies, the London Underground and murals for the RMS Queen Mary.
Despite her success in these fields, it was as a stage and costume designer that she achieved her greatest success. One of her first stage designs was in 1923, shortly after leaving the Royal Academy. Amongst her greatest successes in this field are ‘This Year of Grace’ by Noel Coward in 1928 at the London Pavilion, the musical ‘The Great Waltz’ at the Center Theatre on Broadway, Old Vic productions of ‘Arms and the Man’ and ‘Richard III’. Films included ‘Show Boat’ (1936).
During World War II she joined the St John Ambulance Brigade, working as a nurse in London at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington where she nursed in the casualty department in the mornings and painted the events of the day in the afternoons. Following the liberation of Europe she was appointed by the War Artists’ Advisory Committee inter alia spending three days at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in April 1945 immediately following its liberation.