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Doyly John » D'Oyly - John
CECIL ROCHFORT D’OYLY-JOHN 1906-1993
D’Oyly John (as everyone called him) was born in
South Africa in 1906 and was brought up in Durban. On leaving school joined the Asiatic Petroleum Company, traveling
extensively throughout the Far East. From 1930-1934 he worked in the Tanganyika Police Force rising from Inspector to Public
Prosecutor. Later he joined the Texas Oil Company in South Africa.
There are many stories, probably apocryphal, about his
early life. Amongst them are that he was the illegitimate son of Augustus John, that he worked on a Japanese tramp steamer,
that he was a life saver in Colombo and a pearl fisher in Manila and even that he did “a bit of hush-hush gun running!
outbreak of the Second World War, D’OYLY-JOHN took a commission in the Provost Corps and during the 1945 campaign was wounded
and temporarily blinded as a result of being blown up by a bomb. It was during the period of convalescence that he was
encouraged to take up painting as a pastime by his friend, the artist and teacher, Edmund Fearnley-Whittingstall. He was also
influenced by the Nice artist Paul Negeli as well as a Belgian artist who used his palette knife to paint. He soon proved
himself to be a natural artist of uncommon genius.
D’OYLY-JOHN was one of the most successful and brilliant (in both senses
of the word) artists of his time. What is his genius and colour sense? It defies explanation, other than that it reflected his
personality. He used his genius and colour sense with equanimity in everything he painted. Subjects are made up of several
different colours, although to us it may seem to be of one shade or tone, and in this you will realise the brilliance of D’
In the 1950s and 1960s, his works were sold in print form by one of the major publishers of that time,
and thus his work became universally known and popular .For a while, he lived in Cannes and in 1965 he held a hugely successful
exhibition in Bognor Regis when many of the major dealers in the country (for example Stacey Marks, Aldridges, Frost and Reed)
bought his works
A number of his paintings were acquired by the Queen Mother (when she was Queen) for the Royal collection
and his work is to be seen in other notable collections throughout the world.
D’OYLY-JOHN lived in Rottingdean, near
Brighton, and travelled extensively throughout Europe in search of new subjects to glorify his canvases. His paintings have
been available since about 1980 through StewArt Gallery. He suffered a stroke in 1987, and did not really produce any works
after that date. He now rests in St Margaret’s Churchyard.
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