Augustus John, OM RA (1878-1961)
John was born in Tenby, Pembrokeshire, the third of four children. A brilliant student at the Slade School of Art (1894-98). He had also studied together with his sister Gwen John in Paris. He was associated with the New English Art Club and the Camden Town Group but remained largely independent from artistic trends and movements.
During the First World War he was attached to the Canadian forces as a war artist and made a number of memorable portraits of Canadian infantrymen. After two months in France he was sent home in disgrace after taking part in a brawl. Lord Beaverbrook, whose intervention saved John from a court-martial, sent him back to France where he produced studies for a proposed Canadian War Memorial picture, although the only major work to result from the experience was Fraternity.
By the 1920s he was the leading portraitist of his day whose sitters included distinguished contemporaries such as George Bernard Shaw and T.E. Lawrence. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1928. Alongside these achievements his lifestyle epitomised that of the bohemian artist, a reputation bolstered by his fascination with Romany culture.
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