12 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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