Augustus Edwin John

British , 1878 - 1961

Augustus John was born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire in 1878. In 1894, he began studies at the Slade School of Fine Art in London, working under Henry Tonks and Frederick Brown. During his time at the Slade School, John studied the works of the Old Masters at the National Gallery. In 1897, John suffered a head injury while on holiday in Pembrokeshire and soon after, the quality of his artwork, as well as his appearance and personality changed dramatically. His appearance and personality became very bohemian and his work, freer and bolder. He won the Slade Prize in 1898 for his “Moses and the Brazen Serpent”.

In 1898, John left the Slade School and had his first one- man exhibition the following year at the Carfax Gallery in London. During the same year, he traveled around the continent with fellow artists, Albert Rutherston, Ida Nettleship, Sir William Rothenstein and William Orpen, among others. John married Ida Nettleship in 19011 and took a position as an art instructor at the University of Liverpool, where he produced many etchings and befriended University Librarian, John Sampson. Sampson was an authority on gypsies and soon, John became interested in the gypsy culture and later traveled with gypsies, learning their language and customs.

John moved to a studio space in London in 1902 and began painting a large number of portraits to support his family. Following WWI, John was best known for his portraits of literary and society figures. Augustus John died in 1961.
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