Tag Archives: Augustus John

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Edna Clarke-Hall – letters from Augustus John

Portrait of
Edna by John

The exhibition catalogue recently posted on Jot 101 just scratches the surface of Edna Clarke-Hall’s remarkable career. A gifted artist, whose work in many media has always been in demand, was the friend of so many colourful artists in the early years of the twentieth century—notably Gwen and Augustus John. She died in 1978 aged one hundred and may have lived even longer had the shock of being moved from Upminster Common, where she had lived for more than seventy years, to a retirement home, not played its part.

Some unpublished letters addressed to her from Augustus John just before the First World War, which a friend who knew her well, managed to acquire, reveal much about her relationship with the older artist who, like many other men, was captivated by her beauty. They also reveal John to be a deep thinker on art and society whose was capable of decidedly Lawrentian rants against convention. Two of these letters are worth quoting in full:-

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