Following our highly successful Gwen John exhibition in the summer, which formed the cornerstone of our 30th anniversary year, it seems appropriate that we wind up the anniversary year with an exhibition of her brother's work.
Augustus John was born in Tenby in 1878. He studied at the Slade School of Art, London, under the influence of Henry Tonks and was considered the most famous British artist of his day. He taught at what was then known as the Liverpool School of Architecture and Applied Arts before becoming a war artist in the First World War. Fittingly, the Liverpool University campus pub is named after him. John became a fashionable celebrity artist cultivating the image of the wild and free artistic spirit, drawing inspiration from the gypsy lifestyle and culture.
Although a highly competent landscape artist, greatly inspired by fellow Welshman James Dickson Innes, John’s forte was his portraits, sketching and painting fellow artists and bohemians, writers and his family. As famous for his bohemian lifestyle and flamboyant personality as he is for his brilliant figure drawing and portraiture, Augustus John is widely regarded as one of the greatest draughtsmen of the 20th century.
The quality of his drawings has long been acknowledged but in recent years increasing attention has been paid to Augustus John’s superb skill as a printmaker, in particular his extraordinary etchings, most of which he produced between 1901 and 1910. The editions were small, usually 25, and many of the plates were destroyed, although those printed later in 1919 from the remaining earlier plates were in editions of 50. The etchings are held in several major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, but by far the largest collections are in The National Museum of Wales, Cardiff and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.
This exhibition comprises both drawings and etchings and brings together more than 50 of the latter. It is a rare opportunity to see such a large collection of these outstanding works. All are for sale.