John’s sitter for this portrait was his eight year old son by his wife Ida. Robin looks out of the portrait uneasily, and the close perspective makes for an atmosphere of scrutiny. Robin and his father had a difficult relationship, with Augustus John writing that the child ‘hardly utters a word and radiates hostility’.
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on wood 45.1 x 30.5 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.