BIOGRAPHY

1922

Born 3 October, in St John’s Wood, London, one of six children of Royal Academy of Music professor Harold Craxton and Essie Faulkner, a violinist.

1929-1936

Attends various private schools. Exhibits at the Bloomsbury Gallery in London in 1932 with fellow pupils of Betteshanger School in Kent, whose art teacher, Elsie Barling, is a key early influence.

1937

Visits Paris and admires Picasso’s newly painted Guernica.

1939

Draws models at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris.

1940

Attends Westminster Art School and the Central School of Art in London.

1941

First solo show at the Swiss Cottage Café in London. The Craxton family home is destroyed by a bomb. Meets patron Peter Watson and painter Lucian Freud.

1942

Watson funds adjoining studios for Craxton and Freud in St John’s Wood. Attends Goldsmiths College, London.

1943

Visits Pembrokeshire with Graham Sutherland, Freud and Watson.

1944

First solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in London. Produces colour lithographs and ink decorations for the anthology Visionary Poems and Passages or The Poet’s Eye selected by Geoffrey Grigson.

1945

Travels with Freud to the Scilly Isles.

1946

Returns to Paris. Watson arranges an exhibition at the Galerie Gasser in Zurich, where Craxton meets Lady Norton, wife of the British Ambassador to Greece, who takes him on to Athens. Arrives on Poros in June. Freud follows for an autumn and winter. Exhibits with the British Council in Athens.

1947

After a tour of the Cyclades and Dodecanese, Craxton visits Crete for the first time. Craxton and Freud exhibit Poros paintings at the London Gallery.

A black and white photo of John Craxton by Felix Man, 1948
John Craxton, 1948. Photo by Felix Man

1948

Monograph by Geoffrey Grigson, John Craxton: Paintings and Drawings, is published by Horizon.

1949

Shows with the London Gallery and the British Council in Athens.

1951

Designs sets and costumes for a Covent Garden revival of the ballet Daphnis and Chloë, choreographed by Frederick Ashton. Exhibition of Greek pictures at the Leicester Galleries.

1952

Visits Chios.

1953

Visits Samos.

1954

Exhibition of Greek pictures at the Leicester Galleries.

1955-1956

Designs the cover for the book The Cretan Runner by George Psychoundakis, translated and introduced by Patrick Leigh Fermor. Stays with Paddy and Joan Leigh Fermor in the ancestral mansion of painter Niko Ghika on Hydra. Exhibition at the Leicester Galleries.

1958

Designs the cover for Patrick Leigh Fermor’s book Mani: Travels in the Southern Peloponnese.

1959

Spends Christmas with the Ghikas and Leigh Fermors on Hydra.

1960

Moves to a Venetian house on the harbour at Chania, Crete.

1961

Exhibition at the Leicester Galleries.

1966

Sixth and last solo exhibition at the Leicester Galleries. Designs the cover for Patrick Leigh Fermor’s book Roumeli: Travels in Northern Greece.

1967

Retrospective exhibition at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. Exiled from Greece after a military coup.

1971

Exhibition at Hamet Gallery, London.

1972

Exhibition at the University of Stirling, which commissions Craxton to design and execute a Greek-inspired tapestry with Dovecot Weavers.

1976

Returns to live and work on Crete.

1982

First solo exhibition with the Christopher Hull Gallery in London.

1984

Exhibition with Christopher Hull Gallery.

1985

Touring show travels to the British Council in Athens, the Chrysostomos Gallery on Crete and the Christopher Hull Gallery in London.

1987

Shows with Christopher Hull Gallery and in A Paradise Lost – the Neo-Romantic Imagination in Britain 1935-55 at the Barbican Art Gallery.

1993

Elected a Royal Academician. Final show with Christopher Hull Gallery features portraits from 1942 to 1992 and a catalogue note by David Attenborough.

1998-1999

Exhibition at Pallant House, Chichester.

2001

Exhibition at Art First, London.

2009

Dies in London on 17 November, aged 87.

2010

Memorial service at St James’s Piccadilly. Memorial hang during the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.

2011

Tate one-room show for publication of John Craxton monograph by Ian Collins (Lund Humphries).

2013-2014

John Craxton: A World of Private Mystery exhibition at Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

2015-2016

John Craxton: From Cranborne Chase to Crete tours from Dorset County Museum in Dorchester to Salisbury Museum.

2017-2018

Charmed Lives in Greece: Ghika, Craxton, Leigh Fermor exhibition tours from the A.G. Leventis Gallery in Nicosia to the Benaki Museum in Athens and the British Museum. It received rave reviews and around 100,000 visitors.