John Lavery was the son of an impoverished publican. He lost his father at the age of three, and when his mother died shortly afterwards he was sent to Scotland to live with relatives. At the age of 17 he was apprenticed to a photographer in Glasgow. He studied at Haldane Academy in Glasgow and Heatherley's School of Art in London before moving to Paris where he was a pupil of Bouguereau at the Académie Julian. While in Paris he met artists working in the Grez-sur-Loing colony and their plein air paintings were to have a marked influence on his work. He returned to Scotland in 1985 and became a key figure of the Glasgow Boys, a group of young artists who challenged traditional allegorical Scottish painting through their use of Impressionist colour, technique and subject matter. In 1888 he was commissioned to paint the state visit of Queen Victoria to the Glasgow International Exhibition. Thereafter, he gained a reputation as a distinguished portrait painter. In 1896 he moved to London where he became the vice-president of the International Society. He travelled to Morocco in 1890 and fell in love with the city of Tangier, later buying the hillside property of Dar-el-Midfah, just outside the city, where he established a studio. During a trip to Brittany in 1904 Lavery met Hazel Martyn, the daughter of a Chicago industrialist, and in 1909 the couple wed. Many of Lavery's portrait studies were inspired by his wife. In 1912 he painted a portrait of the Moroccan royal family and the following year was commissioned to paint the British royal family. He was appointed official war artist for the British Navy during World War I, but following the war he resumed his position as a society portraitist. He was knighted in 1918 and became a member of the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Academy (in 1921) and the academies in Rome, Antwerp, Brussels and Stockholm. Following the death of his wife in 1935, Lavery travelled to Hollywood before returning to Ireland at the outbreak of World War II.
BENEZIT DICTIONARY OF ARTISTS