Art: Inspired Innocent

When the formidable Augustus John displayed an accumulation of his paintings, as he did every decade or so in London, the occasion was apt to follow a rigid ritual. The critics would arrive, admire the deft draftsmanship, and report in awe that though John did not change, he never seemed to date. Then would come John's friends—poets, artists, actors, M.P.s, and a generous sampling of the House of Lords—chatting and advising. Finally, John himself, bearded and majestic, would sweep in, his headgear—whether a beret or black Homburg or battered trilby—cocked at some outlandish angle. He would stay only an...

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