John, Augustus Edwin

John, Augustus Edwin,

1879–1961, British painter and etcher, b. Wales. John studied at the Slade School, London. A leading portrait painter, he had many important sitters, among them Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother), Lloyd George, G. B. Shaw, T. E. Lawrence, Sean O'Casey, and Dylan Thomas. His portraits show vigorous characterization without flattery. His celebrated Smiling Woman is a portrait of his wife (1910; Tate Gall., London). John's etchings include several self-portraits as well as portraits of W. B. Yeats, Jacob Epstein, and James Joyce. John's sister Gwen John, 1876–1939, was a student of Whistler and a painter in the Pre-Raphaelite manner.


See his autobiographical Chiaroscuro (1952); memoir by R. John (1975); biographies by J. Rothenstein (1945, repr. 1976) and M. Holroyd (1974, rev. ed. 1996); studies by T. W. Earp (1934) and M. Easton and M. Holroyd (1975); biography of Gwen John by S. Roe (2001).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

John, Augustus Edwin


Born Jan. 4, 1878, in Tenby, Wales; died Oct. 31, 1961, in Fordingbridge, Hampshire. English painter.

John studied at the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1894 to 1898. He was a great master of realistic portraiture (for example, his portraits of B. Shaw, c. 1913-14, Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge; and T. Hardy, 1923, Tate Gallery, London) and genre painting (for example, The Beggars, c. 1912-14, Detroit Institute of Arts). John’s work is vivid and is characterized by its psychological depth and confident, spirited brushwork.


Rothenstein, J. Augustus John, 3rd ed. London, 1946.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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