Belfast-born John Lavery studied in Glasgow and London, before moving on to France, where he continued his training in Paris and visited twice the artists' colony of Grez-sur-Loing.
Returning to London, he established himself as one of Europe's most sought-after and celebrated portraitists, whose clientele would include royalty, high-profile political and society figures. In 1888 he was commissioned to record Queen Victoria's visit to the Glasgow International Exhibition, and was appointed an official war artist on the Home Front in 1917.
In 1909 he married the American socialite and celebrated beauty Hazel Lavery, who became his muse and was largely responsible for rekindling his interest in Ireland.
Lavery was regularly drawn to the sun, spending lengthy periods in North Africa, the south of France and latterly, the United States.The Painting
Set in Lavery's lofty studio in Cromwell Place in London, this monumental painting marks Lavery's closeness to his family, commercial success, and his debt to both recent artists and the old masters.
The group portrait features Lavery's second wife Hazel and his stepdaughter Alice sitting together, his daughter Eileen leaning on a piano beside them, and the household's Moroccan maid Aida carrying a salver of fruit. Though it recalls elaborate studio views by, among others, Courbet and Whistler, the painting is fundamentally a homage to Velázquez's painting Las Meninas (1656).
Lavery's inclusions of his own reflection in the mirror in the background, and his introduction of the family dog, Rodney Stone, at the feet of the main group, are clear quotations from Velázquez's seminal painting. The technique and colour scheme, however, are distinctively Lavery's own and the dressing of the figures very much of their time.
Sadly, due to Gallery refurbishments, The Artist's Studio is not currently on display at the National Gallery.