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.