John Lavery

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"He paints various Royalties". Caricature by Ritchie published in Vanity Fair in 1913.
Mrs Lavery sketching, 1910, National Gallery of Australia.

Sir John Lavery (20 March 1856 – 10 January 1941) was an Irish painter best known for his portraits.

Life and career[edit]

Belfast-born John Lavery attended the Haldane Academy, in Glasgow, in the 1870s and the Académie Julian in Paris in the early 1880s. He returned to Glasgow and was associated with the Glasgow School. In 1888 he was commissioned to paint the state visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition. This launched his career as a society painter and he moved to London soon after. In London he became friendly with James McNeill Whistler and was clearly influenced by him.

Like William Orpen, Lavery was appointed an official artist in the First World War. Ill-health, however, prevented him from travelling to the Western Front. A serious car crash during a Zeppelin bombing raid also kept him from fulfilling this role as war artist. He remained in Britain and mostly painted boats, aeroplanes and airships. During the war years he was a close friend of the Asquith family and spent time with them at their Sutton Courtenay Thames-side residence, painting their portraits and idyllic pictures like Summer on the River (Hugh Lane Gallery).

After the war he was knighted[1] and in 1921 he was elected to the Royal Academy. During this time, he and his wife both became interested in their Irish heritage and were tangentially involved in both the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War: they gave the use of their London home to the Irish negotiators during the negotiations leading to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. After Michael Collins was killed, Lavery painted Michael Collins, Love of Ireland, now in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery.

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.[2]

He died in County Kilkenny, aged 84, from natural causes. He was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery.

Personal life[edit]

Lavery's first wife, Kathleen MacDermott, whom he married in 1889, died of tuberculosis in 1891, shortly after the birth of their daughter, Eileen (later Lady Sempill, 1890–1935). In 1909 Lavery married Hazel Martyn (1886–1935), an Irish-American known for her beauty and poise; by her he had one daughter, Alice (Mrs. Jack McEnery). Hazel Lavery was to figure in more than 400 of her husband's paintings. The sumptuous The Artist's Studio: Lady Lavery with her Daughter Alice and Step-Daughter Eileen, currently is in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Hazel Lavery modelled for the allegorical figure of Ireland he painted on commission from the Irish government, reproduced on Irish banknotes from 1928 until 1975 and then as a watermark until the introduction of the Euro in 2002. The Laverys' marriage was tempestuous, and Lady Lavery is reputed to have had affairs with Kevin O'Higgins and Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary leader.[3]

Works in collections[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "New Year Honours. The Official Lists., New Peers And Baronets., Long Roll Of Soldiers. (transcription)". London: The Times. Tuesday, Jan 01, 1918; Issue 41675. p. 8; col B. Retrieved 2008-12-24. 
  2. ^ Glasgow Herald article 1 April 1939 ‘’Glasgow Art Club Annual Exhibition’’ Retrieved 2011-08-17
  3. ^ Tallant, Nicola (2006-07-16). "Collins didn't have affair with Lady Lavery: claim". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2011-01-23. 
  • Sinéad McCoole, "Hazel: A Life of Lady Lavery, 1880-1935", Lilliput Press, 1997. ISBN 1-874675-84-8
  • Anne Millar Stewart (2003), "Lavery, Sir John" in Brian Lalor (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillian. ISBN 0-7171-3000-2
  • Sinéad McCoole (2003), "Lavery, Hazel, Lady" in Brian Lalor (Ed.) The Encyclopedia of Ireland. Dublin: Gill and Macmillian. ISBN 0-7171-3000-2

External links[edit]