John Bratby

John Bratby RA (British, 1928-1992)

These two vibrant and energetic portraits by John Bratby (1928-1992) of the “Goodies” writer and comedian, Graeme Garden, and the celebrated satirist, Basil Boothroyd (former editor of “Punch” and writer of “That Was The Week That Was”), are typical of the artist’s portraits from the 1970s and 1980s. Bratby completed a series of important portraits of famous sitters during those years, varying in scale and ambition, and the present two works are jewel-like in their use of an intense palette and intimate in their scale.

John Bratby studied at the Royal College of Art from 1951 to 1954 and became famous for his thickly-applied, impastose use of paint and for his ‘ugly-beautiful’ aesthetic. He was also a very fine writer and published a number of highly successful novels, closely relating to experiences drawn from his own life as an artist, from the 1960s onwards. As his importance and influence grew, his sitters became ever more famous and “Basil Boothroyd” and “Graeme Garden” are fine examples of this patronage by important people in public life and the arts. Bratby was a keen observer of the inner qualities of his sitters and never lost sight of the fact that behind every public face was a complex, interior human being. Paintings by John Bratby were recently purchased for the Saatchi collection.

Examples of his work are held at The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, Tate Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Modern Art, New York, V&A, Smart Museum of Art, Chicago.