Sir John Lavery

The Green Sofa

It is a lazy day for me here at the Automat—not because I am actually feeling lazy—but, because I have so many things going on, I cannot get too carried away with this blog (though I am vaguely interested in whether [for strictly academic purposes] I can somehow work long dashes, commas, parentheses, and brackets {Have you gone crazy?} into the same sentence for four distinct appositional phrases).

So anyway, I am going to show you some pretty pictures and then link like nobody’s business.

Boating on the Thames, 1890

Sometimes it is enough to simply enjoy a work of art. I like looking at Lavery. (How’s that for fancy technical art talk?) I want to live in the England he painted. I want to punt in one of those slender boats with my best girlie lounging level with the gunwales, followed by a jolly rogering on the rich green grass of Blighty.  Then we’ll relax with an upper-class picnic of watercress and cucumber sandwiches washed down with a bottle of cheap plonk, and we’ll dab our lips with serviettes that cost twenty-five quid apiece and carry our wine-and-love spotted linens home in a two hundred year old picnic basket. Then I’ll fire up the Cord and drive west to Vita Sackville-Baggins’ house and freshen up all the lesbians in the Bloomsbury Set (please don’t write and correct me; it is too, too tedious.)

The Red Fan

Lavery knew that this posh and poofy England was the best place to press his wares. The trend in art had been all about painting the peasants and rendering the real world. Lavery had noticed that peasants didn’t pay nearly as much for portraits and landscapes as rich people did, and changed his strategy accordingly. As a result we have some of the best renderings of the rich and powerful people of his day, and he became a very wealthy and knighted gentleman himself. Not bad for a poor Irish orphan who’d been told throughout his student years that he wasn’t good enough to be an artist.

Michael Collins, the Love of Ireland 1922


Lavery experienced a political awakening somewhat late in his life, and was very much involved with the negotiations and maneuverings between the Irish and the English. His portrait of Michael Collins is probably his most famous piece, certainly among the Irish.

The Tennis party


If you are interested in the details of his life, and want to see more of his work, please visit the blog Underpaintings at the link I’ve provided where you will find a terrific article about Lavery.

A Conquest


In the meantime, consider these beautiful paintings. Find yourself a wonderful partner. Find a fragrant patch of grass. And if some cop interrupts you, tell the Philistine bastard that you are making art.

Live, damn it!

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3 Responses to Sir John Lavery

  1. What pretty pictures. I would love to visit his England too. It’s interesting because the women seems so unrestrained at least by their clothing, especially for late 1800’s. Especially the last one. I also like the painting of A Conquest. The man’s riding crop (or whatever it is) draws my attention. It’s so “in the moment” as he holds it between his knees.

  2. 1jdadam says:

    I treasure every edition of The Automat. Thank you!

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