14 Facts About Augustus John


In 1897, Augustus John hit submerged rocks diving into the sea at Tenby, suffering a serious head injury; the lengthy convalescence that followed seems to have stimulated his adventurous spirit and accelerated his artistic growth.

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In February 1910, Augustus John visited and fell in love with the town of Martigues, in Provence, located halfway between Arles and Marseilles, and first seen from a train en route to Italy.

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In December 1917 Augustus John was attached to the Canadian forces as a war artist and made a number of memorable portraits of Canadian infantrymen.

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Early in 1901, Augustus John married Ida Nettleship, daughter of the artist Augustus John Trivett Nettleship, and a fellow student at the Slade; the couple had five sons.

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In later life, Augustus John wrote two volumes of autobiography, Chiaroscuro and Finishing Touches (1964).

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In old age, although Augustus John had ceased to be a moving force in British art, he was still greatly revered, as was demonstrated by the huge show of his work mounted by the Royal Academy in 1954.

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Augustus John continued to work up until his death in Fordingbridge, Hampshire in 1961, his last work being a studio mural in three parts, the left hand of which showed a Falstaffian figure of a French peasant in a yellow waistcoat playing a hurdy-gurdy while coming down a village street.

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Augustus John joined the Peace Pledge Union as a pacifist in the 1950s, and was a founder member of the Committee of 100.

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Augustus John is said to have been the model for the bohemian painter depicted in Joyce Cary's novel The Horse's Mouth, which was later made into a 1958 film of the same name with Alec Guinness in the lead role.

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Michael Holroyd published a biography of Augustus John in 1975 and it is a mark of the public's continued interest in the painter that Holroyd published a new version of the biography in 1996.

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In 2018 Poole Museum in Dorset hosted the exhibition 'Augustus John: Drawn from Life, ' which then went on to Salisbury Museum in 2019.

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Augustus John was named to the Order of Merit by George VI in 1942.

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Augustus John was a trustee of the Tate Gallery from 1933 to 1941, and President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters from 1948 to 1953.

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Augustus John was awarded the Freedom of the Town of Tenby on 30 October 1959.

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