Saturday, 19 March 2016


Woman with a Golden Turban (Hazel Lavery) by Sir John Lavery 1929
Belfast-born John Lavery attended 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.

Lavery's first wife, Kathleen MacDermott, died of tuberculosis in 1891, shortly after the birth of their daughter, Eileen. In 1899, he married Hazel Martyn, an Irish-American known for her beauty and poise. Hazel Lavery was to figure in more than 400 of her husband's paintings.

A Summer Afternoon by Sir John Lavery 1884
A Rally by Sir John Lavery, 1885
On the Riviera by Sir John Lavery 1921

Lavery was appointed an official artist in the First World War, but Ill-health prevented him from traveling 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, planes and airships. After the war he was knighted and in 1921 he was elected to the Royal Academy.

BLOGGERS NOTE:- What I found most striking in reviewing Laverys work, is the stark difference in mood and color between the bright pre and post war paintings and the 1914-1918 period. I think he was greatly moved by the First World War and wanted to covey the fear and horror of the time, rather than the gay sendoffs of the soldiers. His paintings before the war show carefree afternoons and activities and lavish portraits of the wealthy. After the war his work seems even more brilliantly colored than before but more structured and less light-hearted. He survived into the Second World War, but was writing his memoirs in Ireland. He died soon after they were published, perhaps disheartened that the "war to end all wars" did not.
War Room by Sir John Lavery 1914 - 1918
A Coast Defence - an 18-pounder anti-aircraft gun, Tyneside, 1917
by Sir Joh Lavery

A Convoy, North Sea by Sir John Lavery 1918

The Wounded at Dover by Sir John Lavery 1918

During his time in London, he and his wife, Hazel, were tangentially involved in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. They gave the use of their London home to the Irish negotiators working on the Anglo-Irish Treaty. In 1929, 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. Sir John Lavery died in Kilkenny 10th of January 1941, aged 84 and is buried in Putney Vale Cemetery.

See also