Whilst Augustus John’s portraits are undeniably some of his best works, critics of the artist have lamented the second half of his long career as disappointing in comparison to the brilliance of his earlier work. The noted exception to this is thought to be the works produced on a trip to Jamaica in 1937 from March to May. This portrait of an unnamed girl from that trip is one such example, as the intimate perspective and the girl’s hard stare at painter and viewer alike combine to produce an affecting portrait.
A Jamaican Girl
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 45.2 x 43.8 cm Tate. Purchased 2016 © Estate of Augustus John / Bridgeman Images
Augustus John was born January 1878 in Tenby, Wales. He studied at the Slade School from 1894 to 1898 where he won a scholarship and the Summer Composition Prize. After leaving school he travelled extensively around Europe, the UK and Ireland, where he painted whilst camping with gipsies and worked with Innes and Derwent Lees. His works were exhibited all over London and the rest of the UK and in later years across the USA.