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Augustus John

Augustus John

Yesterday was August’s birthday today’s is Augustus Edwin John  John was  born on 4 January 1878 and died on 31 October 1961. He was a Welsh painter, draughtsman, and etcher. For a short time around 1910, he was an important exponent of Post-Impressionism in the United Kingdom.

Augustus was celebrated first for his brilliant figure drawings, and then for a new technique of oil sketching. His work was favourably compared in London with that of Gauguinand Matisse. He then developed a style of portraiture that was imaginative and often extravagant, catching an instantaneous attitude in his subjects.

John was born at Tenby in Pembrokeshire, the younger son and third of four children in his family. His father was Edwin William John, a Welsh solicitor; his mother, Augusta Smith from a long line of Sussex plumbers, died young when he was six, but not before inculcating a love of drawing in both Augustus and his older sister Gwen. At the age of seventeen he briefly attended the Tenby School of Art, then left Wales for London, studying at the Slade School of Art UCL in London (his sister, Gwen, was with him at the Slade and became an important artist in her own right), where he became the star pupil of drawing teacher Henry Tonks, and even before his graduation was recognized as the most talented draughtsman of his generation.

In the summer of 1897, John was seriously injured while swimming, and the lengthy convalescence that followed seems to have actually stimulated his adventurous spirit and accelerated his artistic growth. In 1898, he won the Slade Prize with Moses and the Brazen Serpent. John afterward studied independently in Paris where he seems to have been influenced by Puvis de Chavannes.

The need to support Ida Nettleship (1877-1907), whom he married in 1901, led him to accept a post teaching art at the University of Liverpool.

In later life, John wrote two volumes of autobiography, Chiaroscuro (1952) and Finishing Touches (1964). In old age, although John had ceased to be a moving force in British art, he was still greatly revered, as was demonstrated by the huge show of his work mounted by the

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