From the young age of 19, John Craxton (1922-2009) was championed as one of the great hopes of modern painting in Britain. He and Lucien Freud worked in adjoining London studios for much of the second world war and was mentored by Graham Sutherland and John Piper. His 1944 lithographic decorations for the Geoffrey Grigson anthology Visionary Poems and Passages or The Poets Eye were beautiful innovations. Craxton escaped in 1946 to Greece where he found creative inspiration for the rest of his life. The dark, melancholic images of the war years – with haunted solitary figures emblematic portraits of the artist himself – vanished as he became absorbed in the light, life and landscapes of the Aegean.
A consummate portrait of cats, goats and people – a lover of food, wine and music in good company – John Craxton painted pleasure and lived it too.