Augustus John OM

Washing Day


Not on display

Augustus John OM 1878–1961
Oil paint on wood
Support: 406 × 302 mm
frame: 538 × 438 × 90 mm
Purchased with assistance from Sir James Murray 1923

Display caption

In 1910, John began to produce small oil sketches. These brightly coloured depictions of figures and landscapes were painted directly onto wooden panels. They were intended as studies for larger paintings but were commercially very successful. Here, John uses this same approach for a domestic subject. The model is Dorelia McNeill, John’s partner, who features in many of his works. She was known for her distinctive style which was influenced by Romani culture. McNeill is shown here wearing brightly coloured clothes she designed and made herself.

Gallery label, July 2021

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Catalogue entry

N03730 WASHING DAY c. 1912
Not inscribed.
Oil on wood, 16×11 7/8 (40·5×30).
Purchased from the Independent Gallery (Grant-in-Aid) with the aid of a subscription from Sir James Murray 1923.
Coll:John Quinn, New York.
Exh: Chenil Gallery, February 1916 (13); Private Collection of the Earlier Work of Augustus John, Independent Gallery, January–February 1923 (39).
Lit: Mary Chamot, Modern Painting in England, 1937, p.57.
Repr: Marriott, n.d., pl.8 (in colour); Tate Gallery Illustrations, 1928, pl.99.

The Misses Nettleship consider that this picture of Dorelia washing clothes was most likely painted in the garden of Alderney Manor, Dorset, a house into which John and his family moved in 1909.

Published in:
Mary Chamot, Dennis Farr and Martin Butlin, The Modern British Paintings, Drawings and Sculpture, London 1964, I

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