John Craxton 1922 - 2009

An English painter, John Craxton was born in London in 1922 and studied at the Central School of Art and Goldsmiths’ College. In 1942 he became friends with Graham Sutherland and Lucian Freud, sharing a studio in London with Lucian Freud and, as can be seen from his works of this period, very strongly influenced by Graham Sutherland and Samuel Palmer.

Craxton was a huge fan of William Blake’ s. One of the first works he ever purchased was by Blake. He felt that Blake represented the English imagination, held up in contrast to the ‘ pomposity’ of eighteenth century English painting.

After World War II he travelled around the Mediterranean, visiting Greece for the first time in the summer of 1946 before finally settling in Crete in 1960. His early work of the 1940s was often labeled as neo-romantic, filled as it is with a combination of the light and life of Greece and the (imaginative approach) of Blake. The early influence of William Blake gave way to that of Cubism and an admiration for Picasso, placing Craxton in a much more European context. Craxton rejects the label of neo-romantic preferring the title of Arcadian painter. His themes are of course both romantic and pastoral. However the combination of figures with abstraction and his emphasis on the human in his landscapes; fishermen, animals and houses fill his paintings reveal what has been called a more humanist approach to his portrayals of Cretian life. And it is the essence of life which infuses his work, combined with an energy of light and colour. ... read more

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John Craxton Paintings and Drawings

Haunted Figure

John Craxton: Haunted Figure, 1941


John Craxton: Bowness-on-Windemere, 1942

Exotic Plant I

John Craxton: Exotic Plant I, 1942

Exotic Plant II

John Craxton: Exotic Plant II, 1942

Exotic Plant III

John Craxton: Exotic Plant III, 1942

Figure in Landscape

John Craxton: Figure in Landscape, 1942


John Craxton: Kraken, 1942

Metamorphic Plant I

John Craxton: Metamorphic Plant I, 1942

Still Life with Bread Board

John Craxton: Still Life with Bread Board, 1942

Street with Trees

John Craxton: Street with Trees, 1942

Tree by Moonlight

John Craxton: Tree by Moonlight, 1942

Tree Forms in a Landscape

John Craxton: Tree Forms in a Landscape, 1942

Dorset Landscape

John Craxton: Dorset Landscape, 1942-43

Dancer in a Landscape

John Craxton: Dancer in a Landscape, 1943

Study for Cart Track

John Craxton: Study for Cart Track, 1943

Study for ‘Entrance to a Lane’

John Craxton: Study for ‘Entrance to a Lane’, 1944

Dreamer on the Seashore

John Craxton: Dreamer on the Seashore, 1944-45

House in Rocky Landscape

John Craxton: House in Rocky Landscape, 1945

Man with a Sickle

John Craxton: Man with a Sickle, 1945

Landscape (Spetses, Greece)

John Craxton: Landscape (Spetses, Greece), 1946

Study for Hotel by the Sea

John Craxton: Study for Hotel by the Sea, 1946

Tresco Foliage

John Craxton: Tresco Foliage, 1947

The Guitarist

John Craxton: The Guitarist, 1960

Cretan Gorge

John Craxton: Cretan Gorge, 1965

Volcanic Landscape

John Craxton: Volcanic Landscape, 1973

Rock, Tree and Cat

John Craxton: Rock, Tree and Cat, 1986

Cat and Butterfly

John Craxton: Cat and Butterfly, 1988

Portrait of Young Man Looking Down

John Craxton: Portrait of Young Man Looking Down, c.1941

Dreamer in a Pastoral Landscape

John Craxton: Dreamer in a Pastoral Landscape, c.1942


John Craxton: Head, c.1942

Shepherd and Sheep

John Craxton: Shepherd and Sheep, c.1942

Shepherd in a Landscape

John Craxton: Shepherd in a Landscape, c.1942


John Craxton: Shepherd, c.1943

Labourer in Landscape

John Craxton: Labourer in Landscape, c.1945

Head of a Man

John Craxton: Head of a Man, c.1960s

Reclining Male Nude

John Craxton: Reclining Male Nude, c.1970s

Lanzarote Landscape

John Craxton: Lanzarote Landscape, c.1973

Dancer VII

John Craxton: Dancer VII, c1950s

Still Life

John Craxton: Still Life, c1960

Horse and Rider

John Craxton: Horse and Rider, c1960s

Sleeping Cat

John Craxton: Sleeping Cat, c1960s