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Augustus John
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    (January 4, 1878-October 31, 1961)
    Born in Tenby, Wales, United Kingdom
    Post-Impressionist artist
    Known for his portraits
    Notable sitters include Lawrence of Arabia, Dylan Thomas, W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Tallulah Bankhead and Marchesa Casati
    Wrote the autobiographies 'Chiaroscuro' (1952) and 'Finishing Touches' (1964)
    Received the Order of Merit (1942)
    President of the Royal Society of Portrait Painters (1948-53)
    He traveled in a caravan with his wife, his mistress (later his second wife) and his children by both women.
    He told a fellow bohemian, 'We are the kind of people our fathers warned us against.'
    He was attached to the Canadian army as a war artist during WWI, but was sent home after two months for taking part in a brawl.
    One sitter, industrialist William Lever, was so upset with his portrait that he cut out and hid the head.
    A critic said of his later paintings, 'the painterly brilliance of his early work degenerated into flashiness and bombast, and the second half of his long career added little to his achievement.'
    A critic said he could 'draw like a god.'
    His portraits were praised for their psychological insight, with Thomas Hardy saying, 'I don't know if that's how I look, but that's how I feel.'
    He was president of the Gypsy Lore Society (1937-61).
    He joined George Orwell, E.M. Forster and Benjamin Britten in sponsoring the Freedom Defence Committee to 'defend those who are persecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of speech, writing and action.'
    He was reportedly the inspiration for the bohemian painter depicted in Joyce Cary's novel 'The Horse's Mouth' and portrayed by Alec Guinness in the film version.

Credit: C. Fishel

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