For a long time, Augustus John was glorified, and his sister dismissed. Then things reversed and Gwen was considered the greater painter. Today they are equally praised and enjoy exhibitions together. Augustus was well known for his love affairs. Peter will take us into their world.
Drawing Together: The Art of Gwen and Augustus John
This pair of sister and brother artists rarely exhibited together. Gwen was 18 months older than Augustus; she was born in 1876 and he in 1878. They were born in South Wales and had a free and informal childhood. They both went to the Slade School of Art, Augustus a year before Gwen. The Slade’s aim was to develop skill in drawing and was unusual in giving almost equal opportunities to women and men. Augustus was a star there; his drawing technique was brilliant and from then on suffered from the label of never quite fulfilling his early promise. Gwen on the other hand shunned public life, but eventually came to be seen as the greater talent.
Augustus has been seen as a flamboyant, bohemian character, with his many lovers and his numerous children, while Gwen was regarded as the complete opposite. This simple comparison does not stand scrutiny. She was a pioneer in so many ways, an independent and passionate woman who sought perfection in her art. She became the muse then mistress of Rodin, who was 36 years older. As Augustus said in 1952, “Gwen and I were not opposites, but much the same really, but we took a different attitude. I am rarely ‘exuberant’, she was always so.”
Gwen died in 1939, Augustus in 1961.
Peter Scott is a lecturer and guide at Tate Britain, Tate Modern, the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the Bristol Art Gallery.
Tickets are now available for this event at a price of £5.00 per head. All those people booked will be emailed a link to the meeting prior to the event. All people who booked in November 2020 will be contacted directly. There will be a total of 90 tickets available, and these can be booked by using our updated booking form for Jan-Apr 2021. A copy can be downloaded by clicking
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