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Definition: John, Augustus Edwin from Philip's Encyclopedia

Welsh painter. Although he was influenced by the Old Masters and by post-impressionism, John's high-toned colour and solidity of drawing were unique. His works include Galway (1916) and the portraits Dorelia and Bernard Shaw (c.1914).


Summary Article: John, Augustus Edwin from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Welsh painter. He is known for his vivacious portraits, including The Smiling Woman (1910; Tate Gallery, London), portraying his second wife, Dorelia McNeill. His sitters included such literary figures as Thomas Hardy, Dylan Thomas, W B Yeats, T E Lawrence, and James Joyce.

John's portraits are outstanding in their combined certainty of drawing and temperamental handling of paint. His sense of colour and a modified post-Impressionism appear in their most assured in his landscapes of the south of France and his flower pieces. He produced beautiful drawings of the figure at every stage of his career, and also some etchings.

His sister was the artist Gwen John.

Born in Tenby, South Wales, he studied at the Slade School of Art, and taught at the University College, Liverpool, from 1901 to 1902. He began to exhibit at the New English Art Club in 1903. From 1910 to 1919 John led a nomadic existence in Ireland, Dorset, and Wales, producing many poetic small oil paintings of figures in landscape. His cartoon for a mural decoration, Galway (1916; Tate Gallery), shows an inclination for large-scale work which was never fully realized. During World War I he was an official artist to the Canadian Corps. Elected to the Royal Academy in 1928, he resigned in 1938 because of the Academy's rejection of a sculpture by Epstein, but accepted re-election in 1940. He received the Order of Merit in 1942.

His autobiography appeared in two parts: Chiaroscuro (1952) and Finishing Touches (1964).

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