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John Armstrong
© National Portrait Gallery, London. Photo credit: National Portrait Gallery, London

John Armstrong c.1922

Harry Maude Jonas (1893–1990)

National Portrait Gallery, London

British painter and designer. He was born in Hastings, the son of a clergyman, a factor which may have had an impact on his subsequent interest in religious subjects. He originally studied law, then in 1913–14 attended St John's Wood Art School. After wartime service in the Royal Field Artillery, in which his record was significantly more distinguished than that as a student, he embarked on a career as a theatre designer in London. It was through his friendship with the actors Elsa Lanchester and Charles Laughton that he attracted a number of patrons for his painting. Lillian Courtauld, the wife of Samuel *Courtauld, commissioned him to decorate a room in their home at 20 Portman Square. He held his first solo exhibition at the *Leicester Galleries in 1928 with paintings of doll-like figures that reminded the critic Anthony Bertram of the model theatre.

Text source: A Dictionary of Modern and Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press)


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