Augustus John: The New Biography

Augustus John: The New Biography

Language: English

Pages: 715

ISBN: 0374102554

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This 1997 revised and updated biography of the celebrated artist, using the mass of new material which has come to light since Holroyd's two-volume first edition in the mid 1970s, reveals the complete story of John and his circle, from one of our great biographers. John studied at the Slade with his sister Gwen before both of them went to Paris. He lived and worked at feverish speed and his drawings were astonishing for their fluid lyrical line, their vigor and spontaneity. His life became a complex tale of two cities, London and Paris, of two wives and many families. 'The age of Augustus John was dawning,' Virginia Woolf wrote of the year 1908, which saw many portraits of writers and artists and small glowing oil panels of figures in a landscape. His most striking work was done in the years before the First World War and when he died in 1961 his death was treated as a landmark signaling the end of a distant era.

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huge soups, stews and casseroles with rough red wine, fish with saffron and Provençal salads with plenty of garlic, tomatoes and olive oil – the wood fires filling the air with their fragrance, contributed to its happy disorder. For they were not tidy places, these houses. Lord David Cecil remembers leaving his hat on the floor one evening, and returning six weeks later to find it undisturbed. Nor were the manners formal: guests were seldom introduced to one another and might be confronted on

Boches followed by an intense bombardment. Things are getting interesting out here.’ But this joy quickly passed and he fell into ‘a horrible state of depression’.120 The crisis erupted in a sudden act of self-assertion when he knocked out one of his fellow officers, Captain Wright. ‘The gesture had only an indirect relation to my codpiece,’ he assured Gogarty.121 Captain Wright had said something that, interpreted by John as an insult, acted as the trigger for this explosion. The situation was

Review (March 1922). 5  Quentin Bell Victorian Artists (1967), p. 91. 6  The English Review (January 1912). 7  The Burlington Magazine (February 1916). 8  New Age (28 May 1914). 9  Letter from Augustus John to Lady Ottoline Morrell, 5 August 1910. This correspondence is at the University of Texas, Austin. 10  This and other unpublished Orpen letters were owned by Miriam Benkovitz, the biographer of Ronald Firbank. 11  Herbert Jackson was Professor Walter Raleigh’s brother-in-law, while D.

40, 55, 67; shares Charlotte Street studio 68; at AJ’s wedding 89; AJ takes up etching at his suggestion 107, 108; shot down the drain 201, 649 (n. 44) Evans, Mark L. xxv, Evening Standard 514 Everett, John (Henry): at Slade 52; irritated at AJ’s escaping ‘Ladies Fever’ 78; nonplussed at change in AJ 79–80; AJ sleeps on his chairs 81; on Conder 82; visits Pevril Tower 83; on AJ and whore at Albany Street 85; exhibits at the NEAC 94; surprised at McEvoy’s engagement 115; helps Johns find

effect. At the Sketch Club the other night it must have been grand to see me point a dislocated finger of scorn and turn up a broken nose at these purblind gropings in pictorial darkness.’ Such was the devastating effect of this patch and bandage, he claimed, that students hurried over to see it from other art schools, and his class overflowed. But what is evident from his letters is that this fall had brought back memories of his accident at Tenby, and that he was theatrically overreacting to

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