National Museum Cardiff Presents Lyrical Lines Drawings and Etchings by Augustus John

The National Museum Cardiff presents Artists in Focus: Lyrical Lines: Drawings and Etchings by Augustus John (1878-1961) on view through 5 June, 2011.

This display is taken from the Museum’s fine holdings of work by Augustus John, with the addition of loans from an important private collection. It marks 50 years since the death of one of Wales’s most celebrated artists.

Augustus John was born in Tenby and studied at the Slade School of Art in London.The teaching there emphasised skill in drawing and John’s talent soon stood out.

As well as studies for paintings, John produced life drawings and portraits of his friends and family. The powerful, lyrical lines of his drawing style led him to become the star student at the Slade.

Inspired by the work of Rembrandt, John also produced etchings. His spontaneous working style adapted well to this printmaking technique and these works have the same immediacy as his drawings.

The subjects of his prints reflect those of his drawings and paintings: portraits, nudes and gypsy encampments.

John’s mounting fame both as an artist and a personality led to great success as a portrait painter and numerous commissions from leading figures of the day.

His family remained a constant source of inspiration, especially his lifelong muse Dorelia McNeill.

Augustus John first met Dorelia McNeill in 1903 and was immediately spellbound by her beauty, her enigmatic power and magneticism. He drew her obsessively over the next sixty years.

This study was produced whist John, his wife Ida and Dorelia were living in Paris. John drew Dorelia countless times. She posed in a variety of stances and in a wide variety of costumes. Here John as used watercolour to add vibrancy to the work.

Image: Augustus John, Dorelia in Eastern Dress © Estate of Augustus John / Bridgeman Art Library

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