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Augustus John RA, Portrait of a Young Man

Portrait of a Young Man, ca. 1928

Augustus John RA (1878 - 1961)

RA Collection: Art

The "young man" in this portrait is Augustus John’s son Robin, whose mother was the artist’s first wife, Ida Nettleship. Born in October 1904 he was probably in his early twenties when this picture was painted. Throughout his career, John drew and painted portraits of his family alongside his commissioned works.

Unlike his earlier more highly finished portraits, which demonstrate John’s interest in the Old Masters, this informal and apparently spontaneous study reflects the artist’s awareness of French art particularly the work of the Impressionists. In this picture John is less concerned with creating a monumental image by virtue of his draughtsmanship. Each part of the figure is treated in a similar, almost incidental manner with the paint loosely handled and applied quite thinly in short, swift strokes using a narrow tonal range. According to his biographer Michael Holroyd, Augustus John painted energetically, ‘with intense physical concentration’, often going up very close to his subject and staring hard before setting to work (Augustus John, Vol. II, 1975, pp. 104-105)

Object details

Portrait of a Young Man
Augustus John RA (1878 - 1961)
ca. 1928
Object type
Copyright owner
Oil on canvas

610 mm x 465 mm

Royal Academy of Arts
Object number
Diploma Work given by Augustus John RA accepted 1930

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