Papers of Sir John Lavery (1856-1941)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

John Lavery was a painter of portraits, interiors, townscapes and landscapes. He was a founder of the International Society of Sculptors Painters and Gravers, and its vice-president until 1908. This collection consists largely of correspondence between John Lavery and his friends and associates, mainly relating to the affairs of the International Society, John Lavery's picture of the trial of Roger Casement and the 1905 Whistler Memorial Exhibition. Correspondents include William Webb (solicitor to the International Society), John Singer Sargent, James Guthrie, William Orpen, Jacques Emile Blanche, Auguste Rodin, Joseph Pennell and Whistler. The collection also includes lists of John Lavery's paintings, press cuttings, picture registers, sale catalogues and drawings.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Lavery was born in Ireland and moved to Scotland as a child following the death of his parents. He was educated at the Haldane Academy in Glasgow, at Heatherley's School of Art in London, then at the Académie Julian in Paris (in 1881). Influenced by the plein-air style of Jules Bastien-Lepage, Lavery returned to Glasgow in 1885 and became a leading member of the Glasgow Boys (a group committed to naturalism in painting). His commission to paint Queen Victoria's visit to Glasgow in 1888 established him as a portraitist. He moved to London in 1896, became friendly with James McNeill Whistler, and was vice-president of the International Society (founded in 1897). Lavery continued to receive portrait commissions and his marriage to Hazel Martyn Trudeau, the daughter of an American industrialist, ensured his prominence in high society. He travelled widely and exhibited his work in several European countries, where it was more celebrated than in England. Lavery was appointed an Official War Artist in 1917. He was knighted in 1918 and became a Royal Academician three years later. Lavery died in 1941. Lavery's autobiography was published as `The Life of a Painter' (1940). The most recent biography is Kenneth McConkey's `Sir John Lavery: Portrait of an Artist' (Belfast, 1987). An earlier biography was Walter Shaw-Sparrow's `John Lavery and Work' (1911).

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Access to all registered readers

Other Finding Aids

Paper list available

Custodial History

Presented by Sir John Lavery's granddaughter Lady Semphill in 1972.

Related Material

Letters from Lavery can be found in the papers of Sir William Reid Dick (TGA 8110), J. B. Manson (TGA 806) and Sir John Rothenstein (TGA 8726). There is also material in the records of the Goupil Gallery (TGA 8314) and of the International Society (TGA 738). Papers relating to Lavery can also be found at Glasgow School of Art, Imperial War Museum and the National Library of Scotland Department of Manuscripts.

Subjects