Augustus John

Bridgeman; (c) The Fitzwilliam Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Bridgeman; (c) The Fitzwilliam Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

(The yellow dress, 1910)

So much to say on this post. I was actually looking for John’s “The Contraviesa Alpujarra”, which is on the cover of my copy of Gerald Brenan’s “South from Granada”, but you’ll have to google the book and scroll through lots of photos of Matthew Goode looking dashing in order to get there.

I first came across Augustus John and his family as walk-on characters in Ruth Elwin Harris’ children’s series, the “Quantocks Quartet”. Here is a wonderfully fresh portrait of John’s son, Robin, recently acquired by the Art Fund:


John was part of the group of artists gathered round the Slade school of art in the decade before the First World War. Through Dora Carrington (a onetime lover of Gerald Brenan) the set overlapped with the Bloomsbury group, though neither community liked the other much.

Look at these dramatic poses of the wonderfully named and groundbreaking Guilhermina Suggia. The one in the red dress belongs to Tate Britain.


And finally, this striking portrait of the Marchesa Casati,


who reminds me of the Bloomsberries’ Lady Ottoline Morrell and, literally, deserves a post of her own

The exhibition in Venice sounds fascinating, not least because of how different the Marchesa looks in each portrait. In John, the Marchesa seems to have found the ideal artist for expressing her view of herself.

Did she and Suggia deliberately chose to be recorded by an artist known to be unconventional in so many ways, as Isabella Blow chose Alexander McQueen?



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  1. Pingback: Zuloaga | theuniversalcabinet

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