LAVERY, Sir John. Portrait prints of Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith from the original paintings by Sir John Lavery, R.H.A., R.A. Signed in pencil by John Lavery, Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith. Published by Wilson Hartnell & Co., Publishers, Dublin . Stamped on lower margins ‘Artist’s proof’. Framed and glazed. 430 x 530mm. Both with fold marks, light stain to left-hand margin of the Collins image, some light browning to mount. In very good condition. A rare pair of portraits.
Sir John Lavery (1856-1941) was born in Belfast and received his training in Glasgow. In 1910 he married the American Hazel Martyn who drew him into Irish circles in London. During the Treaty talks, he used his high- society contacts on behalf of the Irish delegates and painted several notable portraits of Michael Collins, who became close friends of his wife. The Irish government commissioned his portrait of Hazel, which appeared on Irish banknotes from 1923.
After the July 1921 ceasefire, Collins and Arthur Griffith were sent to London by Éamon de Valera to negotiate peace terms. The resulting Anglo-Irish Treaty established the Irish Free State but depended on an Oath of Allegiance to the Crown, a condition that de Valera and other republican leaders could not reconcile with. Collins viewed the Treaty as offering “the freedom to achieve freedom”, and persuaded a majority in the Dáil to ratify the Treaty. A provisional government was formed under his chairmanship in early 1922 but was soon disrupted by the Irish Civil War, in which Collins was commander-in-chief of the National Army. He was shot and killed in an ambush by anti-Treaty forces on 22 August 1922.