by Ida Kar
2 1/4 inch square film negative, 1959
Sitterback to top
- Augustus Edwin John (1878-1961), Painter. Sitter in 106 portraits, Artist associated with 33 portraits.
Artistback to top
- Ida Kar (1908-1974), Photographer. Artist associated with 1564 portraits, Sitter in 137 portraits.
This portraitback to top
This photograph was taken by the Armenian-born photographer Ida Kar during a visit to Fryern Court. John is shown in his study before two of the clay busts that he produced in his later career. A large-scale variant of this image was exhibited at Ida Kar's exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in 1960. In a review of the show, Nicolas Elam described the portrait: 'Augustus John, his fame and bearing that of an old man but his expression intense and aware, determined not to miss a second of the life that remains.'
Linked publicationsback to top
- Freestone, Clare (appreciation) Wright, Karen (appreciation), Ida Kar Bohemian Photographer, 2011 (accompanying the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from 10 March to 19 June 2011), p. 83 Read entry
John studied at the Slade School of Art together with his sister, the painter Gwen John. By the age of twenty he had gained a reputation as one of the most brilliant draughtsmen in England, winning numerous awards. From 1901 to 1904 he taught painting at the University of Liverpool and travelled throughout Europe and the USA. John became a leading figure of the avant-garde in the Edwardian period and was noted for his flamboyant personality. He excelled at portraiture, particularly depictions of his friends and fellow artists, and is also noted for his paintings of gypsies and coastal scenes. This photograph was taken during a visit to John's studio in Fryern Court, near Fordingbridge, Hampshire, and was first exhibited at the Whitechapel Art Gallery. Nicholas Elam reviewed Kar's exhibition in Oxford Opinion (May 1960), and of this portrait noted that 'Augustus John, his fame and bearing that of an old man but his expression intense and aware, [is] determined not to miss a second of the life that remains.'
Placesback to top
- Place made and portrayed: United Kingdom: England, Hampshire (sitter's home, Fryern Court, near Fordingbridge, Hampshire)
Linked displays and exhibitionsback to top
- Augustus John: A Life in Portraits (26 July 2011 - 18 March 2012)
Events of 1959back to top
Current affairsHarold Macmillan wins the general election with an increased majority, returning to office as Conservative prime minister. The victory was the result of perceived economic improvement under the Conservative government, and his (misquoted) boast: 'you've never had it so good.' During his premiership he earned the nickname 'Supermac', coined by cartoonist, Victor 'Vicky' Weisz.
Art and scienceClaudia Jones organises the first West Indian-style carnival in the country, starting the tradition of the annual Notting Hill carnival. The event was a response to the race riots of 1958, and an attempt to celebrate West Indian culture and help overcome racial prejudice by giving the whole community the opportunity to join in the event.
InternationalFidel Castro becomes leader of Cuba. After defeating the American-backed Batista government, Castro's revolutionary army arrived in Havana on 8th January where Castro proclaimed himself Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Within a month, Prime Minister José Miró Cardona had resigned, and Castro took over.
In Tibet, an uprising against Chinese rule is brutally crushed, and the Dalai Lama flees to India, beginning his long exile.
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