Augustus John was the most successful portrait artist of his generation. A flamboyant
figure, he mixed with celebrities, gypsies and writers and was known as The King of
John had a serious head injury as a young man. Some critics think this had a direct
result on his paintings. His portraits were highly original. He called them "psychological
portraits" and said they were an attempt to capture the personality of the subject rather
than just their appearance.
Some of his portraits were cruel and the industrialist Lord Leverhulme even vandalised
his. But this did not stop Thomas Hardy, George Bernard Shaw, T E Lawrence, W B Yeats and
Winston Churchill all sitting for him.
During his colourful life, there were rumours that John fathered 100 children. This is
now widely disputed. He had a lifelong fascination with Romany culture and was deeply
influenced by the gypsy lifestyle as seen in paintings such as Lyric Fantasy.
The exuberant nature of his work is in stark contrast to the subtle approach of his
sister, the painter Gwen John.
His important works include The Marchesa Casati, Dorelia And The Children At Martigues
and The Two Jamaican Girls.