Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Sir John Lavery

Lady Evelyn Farquhar
Oil on canvas
184 x 120.5 cm
Private collection

Lady Evelyn is dressed to go out with a wide feathered hat tied with a veil-like strap, a high-necked long sleeve dress and a parasol. Lady Evelyn Hely Hutchinson was born in 1877. She was the daughter of th 5th Earl of Donoughmore of Knocklofty. She married twice, her first husband from 1905 on, Douglas Farquhar (her married name became Farquhar), was a soldier killed in action in 1915. She married Sir Dougal Orme Malcolm in 1923. She died in 1962 at age 84.

Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) was one of the most famous celebrity portrait painters at the turn of the 20th century. Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, but soon orphaned, he spent his early years on his uncle's farm. At the age of ten, he relocated to Scotland and attended the art school in Glasgow. Afterwards he worked as an apprentice photographer and, from this experience he developed an ambition to become a portrait painter. He travelled to Paris in 1881, where he studied drawing at the Academie Julian.

Lavery had an immensely successful career as a fashionable portraitist (particularly of women). He enjoyed huge patronage from the British establishment including Winston Churchill. He also painted interiors, landscapes, and outdoor scenes such as tennis and bathing parties, and he was an Official War Artist, 1917-18. His reputation did not long survive his death, but there has recently been a revival of interest in his work.