Born in 1856, Sir John Lavery was a celebrated portrait and landscape painter. He was orphaned in infancy and brought up by an uncle near Moira and, later, by another relative in Ayrshire.
As a teenager he was apprenticed to a photographer in Glasgow, where he also attended classes at the Haldane Academy. He later studied in London and Paris, where he was influenced by Bastien Lepage and Manet and painted in the plein air and naturalist style. He returned to Glasgow early in the 1880s. In Glasgow, Lavery quickly gained a reputation for his decorative images and for being one of “The Glasgow Boys”. The Glasgow Boys were a group of painters based in Glasgow who frequently met, discussed their work and painted. They were an influential movement within British art in the second half of the 19th century.
By 1888, his skill and renown were such that he was commissioned to paint the official portrait of the Queen’s State Visit to Glasgow. This led to more commissions and in time he became a fashionable portrait painter and moved to London. His genre and landscape scenes are characteristically broad and fluid in style, with a style similar to that of Munnings.
He exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Society of British Artists, the Grosvenor Gallery, the New English Art Club and at many European academies. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Society of Artists in 1892 and a full Member in 1896. He became an Associate of the Royal Academy in 1911 and a full Member of that institution in 1921.
Lavery was knighted in 1918 and elected Vice President of the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Engravers. Although based in London from 1890, he spent most winters at his studio in Tangiers.
Sir John Lavery died in 1941.