John Lavery (1856-1941) was born in Belfast but brought up by relatives, allowing him to study first at Haldane Academy in Glasgow, onto Heatherley’s School of Art in London and finally travelling to Paris in the early 1880s to attend the Académie Julian. After returning from Paris is 1885 Lavery helped to form the ‘Glasgow School,’ a group which promoted modern French techniques in Britain. After winning a bronze medal in the Paris Salon (1888) Lavery was gaining several major commissions with the most notable being his painting of Queen Victoria’s visit to the Glasgow International Exhibition.
He became a very popular portraitist, was an Official War Artist (1917-1918) and was knighted after the war. Along with his wife Hazel Lavery, whom he painted multiple times, the artist was involved with the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War, allowing their London home to be used for negotiations leading up to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He was also a friend of Michael Collins, painting him after he was assassinated, Michael Collins, Love of Ireland now hangs in the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery.