This work is an unfinished study of Rachel Castellani. Augustus John was famous for his portraiture, and this sketch in oils shows some of the depth of his skill – the high realism of the enigmatic look on the sitter’s face, contrasted with the sketched clothing and dribbles of paint make for an interestingly modern composition. It was exhibited at the Alpine Club Gallery from November 1917 for three months as Portrait of a girl
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 76.2 x 63.5 cm Tate. Presented by A.E. Anderson 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.