We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.



circa 1914


Augustus John


04 Jan 1878 – 31 Oct 1961

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Reverie, The Tired Climber
    Dorelia in Cornwall
    circa 1914
    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on wood panel
    39.5 x 32.0 cm sight; 62.8 x 55.0 x 5.5 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r., black oil "John". Not dated.

    Purchased 1933
    Naala Nura, ground level, Grand Courts
    Accession number
    © Augustus John/Bridgeman Images

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Augustus John

    Works in the collection


  • About

    As the draftsman, colourist and portrait painter of his generation, only Augustus John’s reputation as the archetypal bohemian rivalled his artistic talent. The artist’s status began to grow during his years attending the Slade School of Fine Art in London, winning the prestigious Slade Prize in 1898 with ‘Moses and the Brazen Serpent’. Studying under the drawing masters Henry Tonks and Frederick Brown, even before his graduation John was recognised as the most brilliant draftsman of his generation. By the early 1900s John had become the most famous artist in Britain with his brilliant figure drawing compared to that of Michelangelo, Gauguin and Matisse, and in 1903 at age 25 John became the leading British artist of the day.

    The legend of his character, however, had its origins in a walking holiday John took in Pembrokeshire in 1897 when two significant events occurred that would shape his life forever. The first was the artist’s introduction to a group of Irish gypsies, instigating John’s lifelong fascination with gypsy life. The second event was a serious head injury that John suffered after diving onto a rock. Curiously this experience led to a dramatic change in John’s personality and the artist returned to the Slade as a restless scruffy bohemian, a heavy drinker and with a sexual appetite that created torment for the women he loved. Artistically John became, thereafter, a much more adventurous, spontaneous and assured artist, which led to the myth “he had dived into the sea, hit his head on a rock and emerged a genius”. His subjects most commonly featured coastal landscapes, gypsies, his family and fellow artists and he is considered by many as the most talented artist of his generation.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 4 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 7 publications

  • Provenance

    Sir James Murray, London/England

    Christie's London, 1933, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Christie's London 1933

Other works by Augustus John

See all 19 works