Augustus John

1 portrait on display in Room 31 at the National Portrait Gallery

Augustus John, by Howard Coster, 1937 - NPG x1939 - © National Portrait Gallery, London

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Augustus John

by Howard Coster
vintage bromide print on card mount, 1937
7 1/2in. x 9 1/2in. (189 mm x 240 mm)
Given by the estate of Howard Coster, 1959
Photographs Collection
NPG x1939

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Sitterback to top

  • Augustus Edwin John (1878-1961), Painter. Sitter in 101 portraits, Artist associated with 33 portraits.

Artistback to top

  • Howard Coster (1885-1959), Photographer. Artist associated with 9346 portraits, Sitter in 5 portraits.

This portraitback to top

This photograph was published in the Bystander, 24 November 1942, under the caption 'The Dominating Figure in English Art'. Aged fifty-eight, he is shown in his new studio at Fryern Court, 'surveying a piece of his work with the disapproval of a true artist.' Since 1933 he had been a trustee of the Tate Gallery, which owned seventeen of his pictures. 1937 was the year he became President of the Gypsy Lore Society. In the previous year, he stayed in Laugharne Castle, Wales, and painted two portraits of the poet Dylan Thomas.

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Events of 1937back to top

Current affairs

George VI becomes king. The younger brother of Edward VIII was crowned on the 12th May and the coronation was broadcast to Britain and the Empire on the radio. Edward becomes the Duke of Windsor, although the rank of 'Royal Highness' is not extended to Wallis Simpson. Neville Chamberlain becomes Prime Minister following Baldwin's retirement.

Art and science

Roland Penrose organises a tour of Picasso's painting Guernica to the UK. The painting, which shows the horrors of the Spanish Civil War, went on display at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in East London. A new synthetic fabric is invented and named after New York and London: Nylon.


Commercial airship travel is brought to an end with the 'Hindenberg Disaster'. The German airship exploded while landing in New Jersey. The radio broadcaster Herbert Morrison's reaction has become legendary: 'Oh, the humanity!' Japan invades China, killing about 25,000. Japanese Troops committed numerous atrocities against soldiers and civilians in what became known as the 'Rape of Nanking'.

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