Saturday 20 August 2016

Sir John Lavery (1856 - 1941) - Irish Artist

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland on 20th March 1856, John Lavery studied art at the Haldane Academy in Glasgow, Scotland before going to study in Paris.  Lavery was commissioned to paint the visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition in 1888 which brought him to the public's attention.  He moved to London and began painting society people, becoming friendly with the Asquith family.    In 1889, Lavery married Kathleen McDermott who sadly died of TB not long after giving birth to their daughter, Eileen (1890 - 1935) who became Lady Sempill.   

In 1909 Lavery married Hazel Martyn who was an Irish-American socialite who had a daughter - Alice Trudeau - who became Lavery's step-daughter.   Hazel became Lavery's model.

Lavery was appointed as an official war artist during the First World War but was injured in a car crash during a Zeppelin air raid and was therefore unable to travel to the Western Front.  He remained in Britain and painted scenes in military bases, military hospitals, naval shipyards, munitions factories, planes, Zeppelins and ships.   Knighted after the war, Lavery was elected to the Royal Academy.

He travelled widely between the wars exhibiting his work in Europe and spending winters in Morocco where he purchased a house.

Sir John Lavery died on 10th January 1941 in Ireland and was buried in Putney Vale Cemetery in London.

Right:  "Woman with Golden Turban" a painting of Hazel Lavery by her husband.

With thanks to William Bulcke of the Facebook Group Women in the Great War and Elena Branca of the Italian Red Cross whose posts of some of Lavery's WW1 paintings prompted me to research him.

Thursday 18 August 2016

Joe English (1882 - 1918) - Belgian artist and graphic designer

Joseph Alphonse Marie English was born on 5th August 1882 in Bruges, Flanders, Belgium, one of thirteen children.   His father, Henry English was Irish from Waterford and his mother, Marie Dinnewet, was Flemish from Bruges. Joe's father started an embroidery workshop in Bruges and Joe's mother was from an artistic family.  Joe studied art at the municipal college in Bruges and then at the Royal Academy in Antwerp, where he worked with the artist Juliaan Devriendt.

In 1910, Joe married Elisa Goederne, a singer and piano teacher who he met in Antwerp.  The couple moved to Bruges and had two children.

Called up to military service at the outbreak of WW1, Joe was sent to the front.  He became the official war artist of the Belgian Army and designed the headstones that commemorated the lives of Flemish soldiers killed during the war.   He also painted many pictures, designed posters and drew sketches and cartoons.  Joe died of an untreated appendicitis in the military hospital L'OcĂ©an 2 at Vinkem on 31st August 1918.   He was buried in the military cemetery at Steenkerke in Belgium.  In 1930, his body was re-buried in the crypt of the Yser Tower (Ijzertorencrypte), which was constructed in 1925.

Every year there is a Flemish national gathering called The IJzerbedevaart (Pilgrimage of the Yser) which has been held annually since 1920, the first one being held at the grave of Joe English.

Belgium is more or less divided into two parts with the capital city, Brussels, being rather more multi-cultural and where French is predominantly spoken - Flanders to the west where Flemish (Dutch) is spoken and Wallonia to the east where French is spoken and there is a German-speaking area.

My thanks to Geoff Harrison and Simon Jones for posting Joe's poster warning of the dangers of the ordnance left over from the First World War.

Pictures:  Self portrait by Joe English and the warning poster he designed.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

George Washington Lambert (1873 - 1930) - Australian WW1 official war artist

George Washington Lambert (1873 - 1930) was born in St. Petersberg, Russia in 1873 and emigrated to Australia with his mother in 1887. After studying art in Australia, he spent a year studying art in Paris in 1900, later moving to London where he exhibited his work at the Royal Academy between 1904 and 1911.   Lambert was appointed official war artist and was attached, as an Honorary Lieutenant, to the Australian Imperial Force in 1917 when he went to Palestine to paint scenes of the battlefields.   In 1919, he was appointed official war artist to paint the scenes in Gallipoli.  Lambert died in Cobbitty, New South Wales, Australia on 29th May 1930.

You can see more of Lambert's work by following this link

With thanks to the British & Commonwealth Forces Facebook Page

Painting by Lambert Trenches at Beersheba, looking towards Tel el Saba, 11th March 1918.