John Aldridge, R.A. 1905 - 1983
Artichokes and Cathay Quinces
Photo: R.A./Andy Johnson
© The Artist's Estate
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Artichokes and Cathay Quinces, 1967
Oil on board, 280 X 483 mm
Purchased from John Aldridge, R.A., 1967
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John Aldridge (1905-1983) was born near Woolwich, London. He won scholarships to Uppingham School and Corpus Christi College, Oxford (1926-1928). After graduating in 1928 he moved to Hammersmith and began teaching himself to paint, In 1928 Ben Nicholson invited Aldridge to exhibit with the Seven and Five Society. He held his first one-man show in 1933 and the following year several of his paintings were selected for the Venice Biennale.

During the 1930s Aldridge was associated with an artistic group, which included Robert Graves, Norman Cameron, Laura Riding, Len Lye, and Lucie Brown, whom he married in 1940 (in 1970 following the dissolution of his marriage to Riding, he married Margareta Anna Maria Cameron, widow of Norman Cameron). Both Aldridge's home Place House in Essex and Graves's Deya in Majorca became centres of creativity, the latter becoming home to the Seizin Press. Aldridge illustrated Laura Riding's The Life of the Dead (1933), C. Henry Warren's Adam was a Ploughman (1948) and designed dust-jackets for most of Graves's novels. In the late 1930s Aldridge began designing wallpapers encouraged by Edward Bawden, who had lived in Great Bardfield since 1925. They formed Bardfied Wallpapers in 1938 but were forced to close when the Second World War broke out. Although Aldridge's name was included among those artists that the third Viscount Esher proposed should be exempted from military service, he served in the army from 1941-1945. In 1949, on the invitation of William Coldstream, he became a part-time member of staff at the Slade where he taught until retirement in 1970.

Aldridge's main interest lay in landscapes and vernacular buildings, which he painted in Essex, Italy, France, and Majorca. He also painted still-lifes and portraits, including one of Robert Graves (National Portrait Gallery). A keen gardener, Aldridge saw parallels in the process of developing a garden and a painting, his garden at Place House featured in many of his works.

Aldridge first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1948; he was elected an associate member in 1954, and Royal Academician in 1963.