Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sir John Lavery

Sir John Lavery, Lady Hazel Lavery

John Lavery, born in Belfast in 1856 into a Catholic family, was orphaned early in life. He moved to Glasgow and worked as a photographers assistant, before taking art classes at the Haldene Academy. In 1881 he attended the Academie Julian in Paris, and, on a visit to Grez three years later, was influenced by the work of Frank O'Meara and other 'plein air' painters who worked there. He subsequently painted in Scotland and England as well as Ireland, but his plein air work is mainly associated with France and with Tangiers, where he bought a house. In England, his fashionable portrait practice thrived, particularly after he painted the British royal family in 1913. Lavery was an official war artist for Britains Royal Navy during the First World War. He was a highly versatile artist and moved easily in the highest echelons of society, both in Britain and on the Continent. 

 The Gold Turban

On a painting trip to Brittany in 1904, Lavery, a widower since 1891, met Hazel Martyn (1887-1935), the daughter of a Chicago industrialist of Irish extraction. She was then engaged to a Canadian doctor, who died shortly after their marriage. In 1909 she and Lavery married. Hazel, a beautiful and fashionable woman who herself liked to draw and paint, became Lavery's most frequent sitter. Her well known face and the characteristic red, purple and gold colour harmonies make The Red Rose immediately recognisable as a portrait of her. However, the canvas was begun in 1892 as a portrait of Mrs William Burrell. In 1912, it was transformed into a portrait of Sarah Bernhardt, and in the early twenties it was, for a brief period, a portrait of Viscountess Curzon.

Red Rose

Hazel Lavery's face became well known to Irish people because it was her engraved portrait which graced the Irish pound note until the 1970s. The Irish Free State government invited Lavery to paint his wife's portrait for the currency as a token of gratitude for the help he and Hazel - by then Sir John and Lady Lavery - gave to the Irish delegation during the negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London in 1921. The Laverys lent their splendid house at Cromwell Place in South Kensington to the Irish delegation, led by Michael Collins. It was the acceptance of the terms of that Treaty by Collins and his delegation that led to the subsequent Civil War in Ireland.  

Lady Hazel Lavery

I love the work of Sir John Lavery, I think he was an incredibly versatile artist and a master at capturing light and shade...

Lady Diana Cooper

 Miss Auras, The Red Book

 Anna Pavlova

A Rally

Evelyn Lady Faquhar

 Red Hammock

Miss Julia Maguire

 Boating on The Thames

The Verandah

 The Hall of Argyll House

 Morning, South of France

 My Studio Door

The Chess Players

 Text by Vera Ryan


  1. I love his work too! There was (is?) an exhibition of the Glasgow Boys in London. I visited the Exhibition when it was on in Glasgow.

    The work on display comes from a mixture of Gallery Exhibits and privately owned pieces. Well worth a visit, Dash :-)

    Ali x

  2. Ooh thanks Ali, I am coming to Blighty next week, so am going to google, to see if it's still on.

  3. I'd happily have one of these on my wall, the colours are gorgeous. Have a lovely weekend. Are you coming to London next week? xx

  4. He's always been a painter whose work I enjoyed...but I knew nothing of his support of the Irish delegation...thanks for the research.

  5. He is enchanting. I love his work and how his women have such strong, bold features, nothing wishy washy about their beauty.
    Have a wonderful weekend! We have sunshine here today, positively spring-like! xxx

  6. Absolutely beautiful...the colors are so lush and I can't get over the water in the boating looks so real you could drag your fingertips in it. Thank you for this lovely post!

  7. Adore his work!! I had, however, never seen photos of her - just stunning! And you're right - what a versatile artist - so many varying painterly styles!

  8. I had a party once in the Lady Lavery suite in a hotel in Dublin!

  9. What a wonderful post, thank you Dash, do not really know this painter, his work is marvellous! Thanks for educating me! xx

  10. Lady Diana Cooper by Lavery is very intriguing. It shows her in her bed with a little black cat (a reference to Manet's famous Olympia, 1863). But the interesting thing is that in her later life, Lady Diana Cooper was too frail to go out but she apparently always entertain or "receiving" guests while she lied in bed. There is a picture of her in bed taken by Derry Moore in his book called "Rooms" and she chose to sit in her bed in her bedroom to be photographed just as she was here painted by Lavery when she was young.

  11. Ooh i love Lavery's art. If you do manage to see the exhibition in London i'd be so jealous! :) x

  12. The first of Lady Hazel is my favorite. What deep, beautiful colors!

    1. Just saw the original of this painting. It is in the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool. Fell in love with it too. Wonderful Its called Hazel in Red and Gold

  13. What marvelous paintings! I love them,I simply do.Never knew about this painter,glad I am now a bit wiser :) thanks.

  14. What a wonderful post! I had heard of this artist but wasn't familiar with his works - they are so illustrative of the lifestyle and fashions of the day amongst the well off - and they are so full of colour and life.
    thank you so much for sharing.

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