John Craxton RA British, 1922-2009
Born in 1922, Craxton went on to study at the Académie Julian, after being rejected by the Chelsea School of Art. The outbreak of the Second World War forced him to complete his studies in London at a time when many considered the British Art scene archaic at best compared to our European contemporaries.
After a hectic post-war period Craxton found the patronage of ICA founder Peter Watson, who helped support his career. Watson paid for the studio the artist shared with his friend Lucian Freud. Through Watson, Craxton made many invaluable connections as well as being invited to Greece for the first time in 1946, where he spent much time until eventually moving there permanently.
Craxton’s post-war work was a departure from the earlier neo-romanticism inspired by Sutherland, and Palmer. His time in Greece brought a new clarity and reality to his pastoral scenes. His work became more inspired by Picasso and Miró – whose work was still considered exotic in this period – as well as the colour and flatness of Byzantine art.
All these influences can be felt in the present work. His favourite subjects at the time were the sailors, shepherds and fishermen who he presented in a very informal and unpretentious way.