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Sir John Lavery


1856 - 1941

Artist. Lavery was born in Belfast (Northern Ireland), but brought up in Saltcoats and Glasgow following the death of his parents. He was apprenticed to a photographer in Glasgow, where he realised his artistic skill while retouching negatives and colouring photographs. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art and in London and Paris before returning to Glasgow (1885), where he became a leading member of the 'Glasgow School' of painters, their work characterised by tremendous energy.

Lavery became a noted portraitist and in the 1880s his work was exhibiting in Europe and America. He painted the visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition (1888).

In 1896, Lavery moved to London. During the First World War Lavery was appointed an Official War Artist and he travelled to locations such as Scapa Flow, where he painted the ships of the British Fleet. Examples of his work of this time can be seen in the Imperial War Museum. He was knighted in 1918 and was elected a full member of the Royal Academy in 1921. In the same year, Lavery lent his London home to the Irish delegation, led by Michael Collins, during the negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

He travelled extensively during his career, spending time in Morocco and Southern Europe. Following the death of his wife in 1935, Lavery travelled to Hollywood (USA) to paint portraits of the film stars. He returned on the outbreak of World War II and died in Ireland two years later.

Lavery's first French landscape, Les Deux Pecheurs, was exhibited in 1883. Other notable works include The Red Fan (1885) and Edinburgh from Mons Meg (1917). His Golf Course, North Berwick (1922) is one of several of his works held by the Tate Gallery.

He donated 39 paintings to what is now the Ulster Museum in Belfast.


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