Augustus John found success as a portrait artist after WWI, painting portraits of famous literary and society figures, such as this of T. E. Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’). John met Lawrence at the Peace Conference of 1919, and they became friends. Lawrence enjoyed sitting for John, and wanted to purchase this piece himself, describing it as ‘rebellious’ and ‘wrathful’ in a letter to the artist. Unfortunately, the price of the piece was too high for Lawrence himself, and it was sold to the Duke of Westminster in 1920.
Colonel T.E. Lawrence
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 80 x 59.7 cm Tate. Presented by the Duke of Westminster 1920 © 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.