The story

John Lavery

John Lavery

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John Lavery, the son of a failed publican, was born in Belfast in 1856. His father was drowned at sea while emigrating to America in 1859. John's mother died soon afterwards and he was brought up by relatives in Ayrshire.

Lavery studied at the Glasgow School of Art as well as in London and Paris. He first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1886 and soon became a very successful portrait painter. This included a group portrait of the royal family in Buckingham Palace.

In 1917 Charles Masterman, head of the government's War Propaganda Bureau(WPB) recruited Britain's two leading portrait painters, Lavery and William Orpen to paint pictures of British military leaders in France. Unfortunately, soon after receiving the invitation, Lavery had a serious car-crash during a Zeppelin bombing raid.

Unfit to travel to France, Lavery agreed to paint pictures of the Home Front. In 1918 he painted pictures such as A Convoy, North Sea, Army Post Office and The End. After the Armistice he went to France and painted The Cemetery, Etaples (1919).

Lavery was knighted in 1918 and three years later became a RA. SirJohn Lavery continued to paint and exhibit at the Royal Academy until his death in 1941.

1941 – Death of painter, Sir John Lavery, in Kilkenny.

John Lavery was born in Belfast, the son of a wine and spirit merchant, but was orphaned at the age of three and for a number of unsettled years wandered between Moira, Magheralin, Saltcoats, Ayrshire and Glasgow. Finally he started working by touching up photographic negatives in Glasgow and attended evening classes at the Haldane Academy of Art.

He painted at the village of Grès-sur-Loing before returning to Scotland with Alexander Roche. They, and some fellow artists, achieved success as the so-called “Glasgow boys,” but Lavery soon moved on to London where he became a fashionable portrait painter with a studio at 5, Cromwell Place and a house in Tangier. He painted everyone from Winston Churchill to John McCormack, and was also commissioned to record the key events of the Irish Civil War his wife – the American socialite beauty Hazel Martyn, was passionately committed to the Irish cause and had a relationship with Michael Collins. Honours were showered on Lavery, culminating in a knighthood in 1918.

Hazel Lavery modelled for the allegorical figure of Ireland he painted on commission from the Irish government, reproduced on Irish banknotes from 1928 until 1975 and then as a watermark until the introduction of the Euro in 2002. The Lavery’s marriage was tempestuous, and Lady Lavery is reputed to have had affairs with Kevin O’Higgins and Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary leader the latter died with a letter to her in his pocket. After Collins’s death, Lady Lavery wore widow’s weeds and tried to throw herself into his grave at the funeral.

Sir John Lavery died in Rossenarra House, Kilmoganny, Co Kilkenny, aged 84, from natural causes, and was interred in Putney Vale Cemetery.

Photo: Lady Hazel Lavery as Cathleen ni Houlihan. Oil canvas (1923), by her husband, painter Sir John Lavery. This image of Lavery, who was born in Chicago, was used on Irish bank notes during most of the 20th century.

Paisley – a history in pictures

Born in Belfast in 1856, Lavery was orphaned at three (his father was shipwrecked), raised in County Down, dispatched to a Saltcoats pawn shop, ran away from home at the age of 15 and was homeless in Glasgow for a while before being returned to Salcoats then back to County Down.

He was as an apprentice re-toucher to the Glasgow Herald photographer and enrolled at the Haldane Art Academy, all by the age of 17. Insurance payout for a studio fire gave him the funds to study at the Académie Julian in Paris in the early 1880s, coming under the influence of Bastien-Lepage.

Anyone for Tennis ?

When he returned from France at the end of 1884, he re-established his studio in Glasgow, painting the masterly ‘The Tennis Party’ which was exhibited in London and Edinburgh, before winning a gold medal at the Paris Salon. He had become one of the famous group of painters known as the ‘Glasgow Boys’.

The painting depicts Cartbank tennis courts in Cathcart in the south of Glasgow and includes fellow Glasgow Boys artists Arthur Melvile, EA Walton and James Guthrie.

This is also Cartbank with members of the MacBride family. The artist Alexander MacBride recalled posing with his sister Elizabeth and a cousin also being there.

The Enchanted Glen

Although working in Glasgow, he was living in Paisley, probaby commuting from nearby Potterhill Station which opened in 1886. He stayed in the picturesque grounds of The Glen mansion at the foot of the Gleniffer Braes in what became known as Lavery Cottage, now Glen Park (on Glenfield Road).

Paisley Lawn Tennis Club (South Avenue) 1889

One of the players is Nina Fullerton* of Crossflat House (behind the Grammar School). The illustrious guests included Mrs MacKean the provost’s wife, Mrs Clark and Mrs Coats of the two great Paisley thread families who sat for Lavery along with their daughters.

The owner of The Glen James Fulton asked for portraits of his daughters, Alice and Eva.

Provost Mackean’s connections opened doors for Lavery, including those of Windsor Castle, where he secured a sitting from Queen Victoria in 1889 and the commission below. Such was the power and influence of Victorian Paisley.

State Visit of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition, 1888

Further information

The Glen mansion, Potterhill Station, Google maps aerial view of the now disused Paisley Tennis Club courts.

* Nina Fullerton died 13th November 1934 aged 70 years, grave in Woodside Cemetery.

Thanks to Roddy Boyd for the info about Lavery living in Lavery Cottage.

Contemporary cartoon about fashionable bandanas suddenly turning tennis into blind man’s buff .

Life and career [ edit | edit source ]

Evelyn Farquhar wife of Captain Francis Douglas Farquhar

Belfast-born John Lavery attended Haldane Academy in Glasgow in the 1870s and the Académie Julian in Paris in the early 1880s. He returned to Glasgow and was associated with the Glasgow School. In 1888 he was commissioned to paint the state visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition. This launched his career as a society painter and he moved to London soon after. In London he became friendly with James McNeill Whistler and was clearly influenced by him. [ citation needed ]

Like William Orpen, Lavery was appointed an official artist in the First World War. Ill-health, however, prevented him from travelling to the Western Front. A serious car crash during a Zeppelin bombing raid also kept him from fulfilling this role as war artist. He remained in Britain and mostly painted boats, aeroplanes and airships. During the war years he was a close friend of the Asquith family and spent time with them at their Sutton Courtenay Thames-side residence, painting their portraits and idyllic pictures like Summer on the River (Hugh Lane Gallery). [ citation needed ]

After the war he was knighted Ώ] and in 1921 he was elected to the Royal Academy.

During this time, he and his wife, Hazel, were tangentially involved in the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. They gave the use of their London home to the Irish negotiators during the negotiations leading to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. After Michael Collins was assassinated, Lavery painted Michael Collins, Love of Ireland, now in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery. In 1929, Lavery made substantial donations of his work to both The Ulster Museum and the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery and in the 1930s he returned to Ireland. He received honorary degrees from the University of Dublin and Queen's University of Belfast. He was also made a free man of both Dublin and Belfast. A long-standing member of Glasgow Art Club, Lavery exhibited at the club's annual exhibitions, including its exhibition in 1939 in which his The Lake at Ranelagh was included. ΐ]

Personal life [ edit | edit source ]

Woman with golden turban, Hazel Lavery née Hazel Martyn

Lavery's first wife, Kathleen MacDermott, whom he married in 1889, died of tuberculosis in 1891, shortly after the birth of their daughter, Eileen (later Lady Sempill, 1890–1935).

After eight years as a widower, he remarried. In 1909, Lavery married Hazel Martyn (1886–1935), an Irish-American known for her beauty and poise with her he had one step-daughter, Alice Trudeau (Mrs. Jack McEnery). Hazel Lavery was to figure in more than 400 of her husband's paintings.

The sumptuous The Artist's Studio: Lady Lavery with her Daughter Alice and Step-Daughter Eileen, currently is in the National Gallery of Ireland.

Hazel Lavery modelled for the allegorical figure of Ireland he painted on commission from the Irish government, reproduced on Irish banknotes from 1928 until 1975 and then as a watermark until the introduction of the Euro in 2002. The Laverys' marriage was tempestuous, and Lady Lavery reportedly was unfaithful. Α]

Sir John Lavery died in County Kilkenny in 1941, aged 84, from natural causes, and was interred in Putney Vale Cemetery.

What did your Lavery ancestors do for a living?

In 1940, Laborer and Teacher were the top reported jobs for men and women in the US named Lavery. 14% of Lavery men worked as a Laborer and 13% of Lavery women worked as a Teacher. Some less common occupations for Americans named Lavery were Farmer and Waitress .

*We display top occupations by gender to maintain their historical accuracy during times when men and women often performed different jobs.

Top Male Occupations in 1940

Top Female Occupations in 1940

John Lavery

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John Lavery was a painter of portraits, interiors, townscapes and landscapes. He was a founder of the International Society of Sculptors Painters and Gravers, and its vice-president until 1908. This collection consists largely of correspondence between John Lavery and his friends and associates, mainly relating to the affairs of the International Society, John Lavery's picture of the trial of Roger Casement and the 1905 Whistler Memorial Exhibition. Correspondents include William Webb (solicitor to the International Society), John Singer Sargent, James Guthrie, William Orpen, Jacques Emile Blanche, Auguste Rodin, Joseph Pennell and Whistler. The collection also includes lists of John Lavery's paintings, press cuttings, picture registers, sale catalogues and drawings.

John Lavery was born in Ireland and moved to Scotland as a child following the death of his parents. He was educated at the Haldane Academy in Glasgow, at Heatherley's School of Art in London, then at the Académie Julian in Paris (in 1881). Influenced by the plein-air style of Jules Bastien-Lepage, Lavery returned to Glasgow in 1885 and became a leading member of the Glasgow Boys (a group committed to naturalism in painting). His commission to paint Queen Victoria's visit to Glasgow in 1888 established him as a portraitist. He moved to London in 1896, became friendly with James McNeill Whistler, and was vice-president of the International Society (founded in 1897). Lavery continued to receive portrait commissions and his marriage to Hazel Martyn Trudeau, the daughter of an American industrialist, ensured his prominence in high society. He travelled widely and exhibited his work in several European countries, where it was more celebrated than in England. Lavery was appointed an Official War Artist in 1917. He was knighted in 1918 and became a Royal Academician three years later. Lavery died in 1941. Lavery's autobiography was published as `The Life of a Painter' (1940). The most recent biography is Kenneth McConkey's `Sir John Lavery: Portrait of an Artist' (Belfast, 1987). An earlier biography was Walter Shaw-Sparrow's `John Lavery and Work' (1911).

Cist Grave

This Cist Grave dates back approximately 4,000 years. It was discovered Killinane, Co. Carlow in the 1970s, excavated and reconstructed in the 2 nd courtyard. Along with the cremated remains of two people, a magnificently decorated pottery vessel was discovered which is also in the collection, but not currently on display.

The cist grave has been reassembled in the second courtyard.


  • Fionnbarr Moore: A Bronze Age burial at Killinane, near Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, in: Old Kilkenny Review 1984, p. 64-68

Watch the video: John Lavery: A collection of 590 paintings HD (August 2022).