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Sold at Auction: Augustus Edwin John

Alias:August Edwin JohnAugustus JohnAugustus E. JohnAugustus Edwin JohnJohn Augustus
Figure painterPainterEtcherLithographerPortrait painterLandscape painterWater color painterPlastic ArtGenre PainterFlower painterStill life painter


(b Pembrokeshire, England, 1878; d Hampshire, England, 1961) Welsh Painter. After the death of his mother, Augustus Edwin John and his sister moved to Wales where they had a free and unruly childhood. They attended the Slade School in London from 1895 to1898, where Augustus was recognized for his artistic talents. In 1901, John married his first wife, Ida Nettleship, and in 1903, he met his mistress, Dorthy McNeill, who later became his wife after Ida died. Throughout his life, John was particularly interested in the rich culture of Roma people, whom he referred to as Gypsies. He would seek them out as he traveled across England in a caravan, studying the Romany language and drawing them. Although John was famous for his drawings, the majority of his works were portraits. He painted portraits of his wives and family, as well as many distinguished contemporaries such as T. E. Lawrence and W. B. Yeats. His use of elegant outlines catches the unerringly striking and usually unfamiliar aspect of his subjects, reveal their psychological insights, many of which were considered cruel. John’s early style was characterized by long, rhythmic outlines, however, around the time of Ida’s death, John's drawing style changed, showing influences of the works by Ingres and Picasso. John was a leader of the New English Art Club; a Royal Academician of the Royal Academy in 1928; he was named to the Order of Merit by King George VI in 1942; a trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1933-1941; the President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painter from 1948 to 1953. His sister, Gwendolen Mary John, was also a distinguish artist. (Credit: Christie’s, London, United Kingdom, British Art on Paper, June 5, 2007, Lot 107.)
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