Friday, May 18, 2012

A SOCIETY PORTRAITIST AND WAR ARTIST



Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) was born in Belfast and attended the Haldane Academy, in Glasgow, and later at the Julian Academy in Paris in the 1880’s. In 1888 he painted Queen Victoria during one of her state visits to the Glasgow International Exhibition, which helped to initiate his career. Lavery’s wife died from tuberculosis in 1891, and in 1909 he remarried to Hazel Lavery, a beautiful Irish-American who was to feature in many of his paintings.
(world-war-pictures.com)


War Aeroplanes Aerodrome Flying

War Ship Navy Sailors Weapons

War Ships Harbour

War Weapons Maunfactory Machinery 
Images from old-print.com


Although appointed as an official war artist, ill-health and a serious car crash during a Zeppelin bombing raid prevented him from travelling to the Western Front. He spent his time in Britain painting planes, boats and airships. In 1921 he was knighted and elected to the Royal Academy, and later that decade made large donations of his work to the Ulster Museum and the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery.
(world-war-pictures.com)


Stars in Sunlight 
From gallery.limerick.ie


Stars in Sunlight reflects another of Lavery’s subject interests – capturing society women at leisure. He enjoyed painting scenes of fashionable ladies drifting idly in canoes on still waters, relaxing in hammocks, or painting In their elegant gardens. The influence of Impressionism prevails in this painting, executed when the artist was eighty years old. The subjects appear completely at ease, enjoying the pleasures of one another’s company on a sunny afternoon in Hollywood, USA . One of the stars, the woman wearing the red dress, is the Roscommon-born actress, Maureen O’Sullivan, best known for her role as Jane, appearing opposite Johnny Weissmuller, in several Tarzan movies.
(gallery.limerick.ie)


The first wounded 
From world-war-pictures.com


The Glasgow Exhibit 
From tate.org.uk


Sir John Lavery was born in poverty. Pulling him-self up by his bootstraps, he trained as a painter, spending time in Glasgow, London and, as was very much the trend at that time, Paris. Lavery was rewarded for his efforts, becoming a successful portraitist and an official war artist. Throughout his career he also considered himself a documentary artist, and undertook to create portraits of all members of the Irish delegation in 1921 when negotiations for the Irish Treaty were taking place. In fact, so pleased were the Irish government with the help both Lavery and his wife Hazel offered them during this period that they invited him to paint a portrait of Hazel to feature on the old Irish Pound note. Her portrait appeared on the note until the 1970s. While living in France , Lavery developed a fondness for landscapes, and his works suggest the influences of the Impressionists Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas and James McNeill Whistler. 
(gallery.limerick.ie)


The Opening of the Modern Foreign and Sargent Galleries 
King George V, Accompanied by Queen Mary 
Tate Gallery 
From tate.org.uk


The Modern Foreign and Sargent Galleries at the Tate were opened by King George V amid great pomp and ceremony on 26 June 1926. The galleries were financed by Sir Joseph Duveen, director of the Duveen Galleries in New York and son of the celebrated art dealer, J.J. Duveen. Duveen commissioned the Irish-born artist Sir John Lavery to record the event. Lavery had established a reputation as a society portraitist and painter of rapid, lively oil sketches of groups of people in interiors. He was also experienced in painting royal occasions of this type, having recorded the state visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888. This painting is a preliminary study made on the spot for a larger, more detailed painting, also in the Tate collection, which shows the same event from a different angle. Here Lavery adopts a high viewpoint, taking in the entire length of the Turner Gallery, where the ceremony took place. The sketch is rapidly executed in Lavery's fluid, easy style. According to the Evening News, reporting on the event, it took only twenty minutes for the sketch to take definite form: 'For several minutes the King and Queen watched Sir John Lavery at work and both remarked on the astonishing speed with which the picture was being carried out…The artist explained,…"For pictures of this kind to be of any value…they must be done at once; otherwise the atmosphere of the moment is lost."' The visitors and dignitaries are merely indicated with flickering brushstrokes and bold splashes of pigment; and, despite the proliferation of dark suits, the rich red walls and the warm palette of the Turners add colour and vibrancy to the scene. King George V and Queen Mary are visible in the background, slightly raised up on a dais and framed by Turner's Dido and Aeneas behind them. The eye is drawn into the picture, past the empty chairs, following the diagonal line of the wooden pews, and finally resting on the Queen, resplendent in a Chinese silk dress and white crinoline straw hat. 
(Frances Fowle at tate.org.uk)


The Opening of the Modern Foreign and Sargent Galleries 
Tate Gallery 
From tate.org.uk


Appropriately, the location for the ceremony was one of the Turner Galleries at the Tate, which were presented by Duveen's father. A smaller sketch of the event, recorded from a different viewpoint, is also in the Tate collection. As a leading member of the Glasgow Boys, he was commissioned to record the state visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888, and he also painted the Royal Family at Buckingham Palace in 1913. The picture is extremely formal, but executed in Lavery's fluid, easy style. The rich red of the walls and carpet and the warm palette of the Turner landscapes add colour and vibrancy to a potentially static image. The artist has painstakingly recorded every individual present. King George V and Queen Mary are shown seated on the dais, the queen's white dress balanced in intensity by the woman in red in the right foreground of the picture. Lord D'Abernon, then Chairman of the Trustees of the Tate Gallery, stands before them, no doubt delivering his welcome speech. Duveen is shown standing on the extreme left of the picture, his hand resting on the back of his wife's chair; and to balance him, Samuel Courtauld, an important early collector of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, and whose gifts to the Modern Foreign Collection at the Tate were also celebrated at this time, is seated in the near foreground of the picture, to the right of the woman in red. Other dignitaries include Charles Aitken, the Director of the Tate Gallery, and the Scottish writer and art critic D.S. MacColl. Duveen was closely associated with Lavery from the early 1920s and was responsible for introducing his work to the American public. In 1925 The Duveen Galleries held an exhibition of Lavery portraits, interiors and landscapes which toured America. Later in 1931 Duveen commissioned a large group portrait of a Royal reception at Buckingham Palace.
(Frances Fowle at tate.org.uk)
In 1929 John Lavery made substantial donations of his work to both The Ulster Museum and the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery and in the 1930s he returned to Ireland. He received honorary degrees from the University of Dublin and Queen's University of Belfast. He was also made a free man of both Dublin and Belfast. A long-standing member of Glasgow Art Club, Lavery exhibited at the club's annual exhibitions, including its exhibition in 1939 in which his The Lake at Ranelagh was included. He died in County Kilkenny, aged 84, from natural causes. He was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery.
(Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)



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