The artist John Lavery was born in Belfast, and studied in Scotland at the Glasgow School of Art from about 1874. He was in London from 1879-81 (he studied at Heatherley's School of Art for six months), and later in Paris, where he was influenced by Bastien-Lepage. He then returned to Glasgow, becoming a leading member of informal group of painters known as the Glasgow School (James Guthrie was another member), with work characterised by lack of a storyline, but great energy. Lavery achieved his pinnacle in the 1880s, with exhibitions in Europe and America, and as a leading portraitist, he was chosen to paint the State visit of Queen Victoria to the International Exhibition in Glasgow, 1888 - there were some 250 portraits in that picture. From 1890 he visited Morocco frequently, and he changed his British base to London in 1896, where he used a studio belonging to Alfred East. He was elected ARA in 1911, the same year as Shannon, and became a full Academician in 1921 (his diploma work was The Van Dyck Room, Wilton. In the 1930s he returned to Ireland.
During the First World War Lavery was an Official War Artist, and the Imperial War Museum has examples of his work. A portrait of Sybil Sassoon by Lavery is in the Southampton gallery. He donated 39 paintings to what is now the Ulster Museum, Belfast, Ireland.