Belfast Telegraph

Belfast artist John Lavery recognised with blue plaque

Bathing, Lido, Venice, 1912 by Belfast artist Sir John Lavery
Bathing, Lido, Venice, 1912 by Belfast artist Sir John Lavery
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

The renowned Belfast-born painter Sir John Lavery is to be recognised with a blue plaque in his home city.

Orphaned at the age of three, Sir John rose to become an acclaimed artist, celebrated for his portraits and wartime depictions.

Now, almost 80 years after his death, his career will be celebrated.

A blue plaque is being unveiled tomorrow at Donegall Street, beside St Patrick's Church where a young Sir John was baptised, by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast, Peter McReynolds.

The plaque has been organised by the Ulster History Circle.

Its chairman Chris Spurr said: "Sir John Lavery is among the most distinguished artists to be born in Belfast.

"He excelled as a portrait painter and as a war artist, and his philanthropy saw works given both to his place of baptism, St Patrick's Church, near to where his plaque will stand, and to the Ulster Museum.

"The Ulster History Circle is delighted to commemorate this eminent artist with a blue plaque which will replace that unveiled in 1998 on North Queen Street at the site of his birthplace."

Born in March 1856, Sir John's life as an artist began in Glasgow, first as a retoucher for a photographer where he learned his trade at the Haldane Academy of Arts.

His debut exhibition in 1880 was well received and he was getting work as a known painter.

Sir John Lavery
Sir John Lavery

In 1885, he entered a painting at the British Royal Academy with the title, 'The Tennis Party'.

It was followed by a commission in 1887 to paint the state visit of Queen Victoria in Glasgow, which made his name and secured commissions for the next 50 years.

Aged nearly 60 when the Great War broke out in 1914, Sir John joined the Artist's Rifles and went on to paint his famous 'The First Wounded'.

Sir John continued to paint until he died, aged 85, in Rossenara House, Co Kilkenny.

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