The British portraitist Augustus John, b. Jan. 4, 1878, d. Oct. 31, 1961, was one of a number of brilliant students from the Slade School of Art, London, which he attended from 1894 to 1898, who changed the direction of British art in the 20th century. His early work was in the Slade tradition of figure compositions and fine drawing. After a stay in Paris he came to admire Pierre Puvis de Chavannes and Pablo Picasso; later, in association with J. D. Innes, his style became freer and more colorful. He lived a bohemian life, touring in a horse-drawn caravan when not living with his large family in Poole, and became the epitome of the modern artist, exhibiting at the New English Art Club and in the Armory Show (1913) in New York City.

After service as a war artist in World War I, John found fashionable success with his portraits of famous people such as George Bernard Shaw (1915; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge), T. E. Lawrence (1919; Tate Gallery, London), Thomas Hardy (1923; Fitzwilliam Museum), and Tallulah Bankhead (1930; National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.). John became a member of the Royal Academy in 1928, resigned in 1938, and was reelected in 1946.

 

 

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