Artists That Inspire

John Minton

Francis John Minton was an born in 1917. He was an illustrator, painter, stage designer and teacher. After studying in France, he became a teacher in London, and at the same time maintained a consistently large output of works. In addition to landscapes, portraits and other paintings, some of them on an unusually large scale, he built up a reputation as an illustrator of books.

Minton was born the second of three sons of Francis Minton, a solicitor, and his wife, Kate, née Webb. He studied art at St John’s Wood School of Art from 1935 to 1938. and was greatly influenced by his fellow student #MichaelAyrton, who enthused him with the work of French neo-romantic painters. He spent eight months studying in France, frequently accompanied by Ayrton, and returned from Paris when the Second World War began. In October 1939 Minton registered as a conscientious objector, but in 1941 changed his views and joined the Pioneer Corps.

He was commissioned in 1943, but was discharged on medical grounds in the same year. While in the army, Minton, with Ayrton, designed the costumes and scenery for John Gielgud‘s 1942 production of Macbeth. The settings moved the piece from the 11th century to “the age of illuminated missals”; The Manchester Guardian wrote that they “should be long remembered”. In the same year he and Ayrton held a joint exhibition at the Leicester Galleries in London. The Times wrote, “Mr. Minton is seen to have an overcast, gloomy realism, and much intensity of feeling, which he expresses in dark colour schemes, both in a curious and effective self-portrait and in paintings of streets and bombed buildings.”

From 1943 to 1946 Minton taught illustration at the Camberwell College of Arts, and from 1946 to 1948 he was in charge of drawing and illustration at the Central School of Art and Design. At the same time he continued to draw and paint, sharing a studio for some years with #RobertColquhoun and #RobertMacBryde, and later with #KeithVaughan. Reviewing a 1944 exhibition, The Times remarked that Minton was clearly in the tradition of #Samuel Palmer, something frequently remarked on by later critics. Minton’s output was considerable – between 1945 and 1956 he had seven solo exhibitions at the Lefevre Gallery, notwithstanding his work as tutor to the painting school of the Royal College of Art in 1949, a post that he held until the year before his death. Minton’s appearance in this period is shown in a 1952 portrait by #LucianFreud, as well as in self-portraits.

In the mid-1950s, Minton found himself out of sympathy with the abstract trend that was then becoming fashionable, and felt increasingly sidelined. He suffered psychological problems, self-medicated with alcohol, and in 1957 died by committing suicide.

For more about Minton here’s link to one of many Youtube videos.