An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location

An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location
Sir John Lavery The Bathing Hour, 1912. Image courtesy Sothebys

An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location
20 July, 2024 –27th October, 2024
National Galleries of Scotland
The Mound
Admission £5-£19

Indulge your wanderlust with An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location, at the National Galleries of Scotland’s summer exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh, running from 20 July 2024 to 27 October 2024. Dip your toes in the sun, sea and society of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, viewed through the works of renowned Glasgow Boy, Sir John Lavery. Tickets are on sale now

An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location
Sir John Lavery, On the Cliffs, 1911.
Photograph courtesy of the Richard
Green Gallery, London

Take a trip through the extraordinary life of the Belfast-born artist, from Scotland to New York via Paris and Morocco. Lavery never travelled without his painting kit, and the exhibition explores some of the key locations shown in his art. See sumptuous portraits, impressionistic landscapes and idyllic scenes of leisure against a backdrop of Tangier, St Jean de Luz, Palm Springs and the Venice Lido. Be whisked away to Switzerland, Spain, Ireland and Italy, as well as to cities such as Glasgow, Seville, Monte Carlo and New York. From the highly finished to the swift Impressionist sketch and a uniquely personal style, the range of subjects on show is staggering. 

 Move through the exhibition to experience the glamour of a lost era, with visits to the races, tennis matches and the golf course or simply relaxing on warm days with Lavery’s family and friends. With 90 magnificent artworks to explore, Lavery on Location brings together an array of his most notable paintings along with many works from private collections not usually seen by the public. You will be able to discover nearly 20 paintings exclusively on display in Edinburgh. Immerse yourself in 

beautiful seascapes of Tangier from the Ulster Museum, as well as spectacular portraits such as Idonia in Morocco from Glasgow Museums and Hazel in Black and Gold from the Laing Art Gallery. 

An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location
Sir John Lavery, Loch Katrine, 1913
.Collection: National Galleries of Scotland.

Themed rooms will allow visitors to immerse themselves in Lavery’s oil sketches for the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1888, where he had his big break and was commissioned to paint the State Visit of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria. Then visitors can journey through Lavery’s travels in North Africa, with mesmerising paintings of snake charmers and camps on his adventures to Fez.

For over twenty years, his villa in Tangier, surrounded by beautiful gardens, would become a winter retreat. Then experience Lavery’s time as an Official War Artist with scenes in hospitals, submarine pens and air raids during World War I. Lavery’s constant devotion to recording everyday life allows us to step inside a bygone era, capturing leisure activities such as sport, sunbathing and sight-seeing with the artist’s friends and family. 

Born in Belfast, where his father ran a small wine and spirits shop in North Queen Street, Lavery was orphaned at the age of three, and moved to his uncle’s farm at Moira before being sent as a ten-year-old to a distant relative in Saltcoats, Ayrshire. He first ran away to Glasgow at the age of 15, and went on to take early morning and evening drawing lessons at the Haldane Academy, completing his training at the Académie Julian in Paris. 

Along with a number of his fellow Scottish students Lavery worked at the colony of Grez-sur-Loing, near Fontainebleau, which will be the focus of the first room of the exhibition. Then, back in Scotland in 1885 he became one of the leaders of the much-loved group of artists known as the Glasgow Boys. The Glasgow Boys rebelled against the stuffy Edinburgh-based art establishment and challenged the Academy’s emphasis on historical painting. Instead, their subjects were drawn from everyday life, often painted outdoors. 

An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location
Sir John Lavery, Florida in Winter (1927),
1856 – 1941, Courtesy of National Museums NI, Ulster Museum Collection.

Lavery quickly attained an international reputation in his early 30s when he received a gold medal at the Paris Salon, the most prestigious art exhibition in the world at the time. Enjoying great success after his move to London in 1896, Lavery combined his talents as a portrait painter with an interest in contemporary events and was later knighted in 1918. 

Having travelled a great deal, always with his easel, Lavery recorded everything – from daylight raids on London during the First World War to tennis parties in the South of France. But despite his travels worldwide, Lavery’s connections to Scotland and Ireland remained strong throughout his long career. 

An Irish Impressionist: Lavery on Location opens on the 20th of July, 2024 until the 27th of October, 2024 at National Galleries of Scotland

©2024 National Galleries of Scotland