This is one of at least two works by John on the subject of the railway and surrounding landscape at Martigues from his time there. John had long been enamoured with the idea of Provence when he rode this railway to the town of Martigues, a little town half-way between Arles and Marseilles. He wrote: ‘With a feeling that I was going to find what I was seeking, an anchorage at last, I returned from Marseilles, and, changing at Pas des Lanciers, took the little railway which leads to Martigues. On arriving my premonition proved correct: there was no need to seek further.’ John bought a home there, and visited for many years.
The Little Railway, Martigues
Date of work
Original: Oil paint on canvas 47 x 54.6 cm Tate. Bequeathed by Lady Henry Cavendish-Bentinck 1940 © 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.