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Portrait of T.E. Lawrence as Aircraftman ShawEnlarge image

Portrait of T.E. Lawrence as Aircraftman Shaw, 1935

Augustus John
British, 1878 - 1961
oil on canvas
71 x 52.5 cm
Gift of the Massey Collection of English Painting, 1946
National Gallery of Canada (no. 4781)

The sitter in this portrait is T.E. Lawrence, a World War I hero who became known as “Lawrence of Arabia.” Serving as a British liaison officer during the Arab Revolt of 1916-1918, he helped to free the Bedouins from Turkish rule and published an account of his adventures in the desert in Seven Pillars of Wisdom (1926). In 1922, he adopted the name Shaw after joining the Royal Air Force. Lawrence met Augustus John at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, and the two became friendly. As John wrote, “He sat for me frequently in Paris and later in England. Lawrence actually enjoyed being painted and always seemed vastly tickled by the results.”

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