20th Jun, 2024 10:00

The Scottish Contemporary Art Auction

  Lot 17


oil on canvas, signed

image size 26cm x 36cm, overall size 33cm x 43.5cm

Note: Painter, brought up in Durban, South Africa, who claimed relationship to the artist Augustus John. D’Oyly-John (sometimes unhyphenated) became a widely recognised painter for several decades after World War II with his idealised sun-drenched views of a never-never south of France and the Mediterranean, a few reproduced as prints, often high in the Printsellers’ Association’s popularity poll. He eventually settled in Rottingdean and was known as the Van Gogh of Sussex after a colourful past which included working on a Japanese tramp steamer, life-saving in Colombo and pearl-fishing in Manila and “a bit of hush-hush gun-running”. He also served for eight years with the police in Tanganyika, rising to district commissioner. When war broke out he returned to England, joined the Military Police, and served in Africa and the Middle East, later with Civil Affairs on the continent. “Mentally badly blitzed” by a V2 rocket D’Oyly-John recuperated with his friend the artist and teacher Edmund Fearnley-Whittingstall, who encouraged him to paint. He adopted a palette knife technique gleaned from a Belgian artist seen on holiday, later picking up tips from the Nice artist Paul Negeli. When KLG, the sparking plug firm he worked for, was taken over, D’Oyly-John and and his wife moved to South Africa, where he began painting seriously, with interest from the English dealer Frost and Reed. The D’Oyly-Johns lived in Cannes for some years before settling in England, but he continued to tour the continent as Gough’s Gallery, Bognor Regis, where he had a solo show in 1965, Stacy-Marks in Eastbourne and dealers around the world took up his work. Queen Elizabeth, visiting Africa as Princess Elizabeth, found her Treetops hotel decorated with several D’Oyly-Johns and acquired his work for the Royal Collection. A stroke in 1987 incapacitated the artist, partially paralysing him and blinding him in one eye.


A condition report is offered as an indication of any issues visible to the naked eye. As none of our staff is a professional conservator or restorer, buyers must satisfy themselves in respect of condition and McTear’s can provide contact details of local professionals who can provide fully comprehensive expert reports, usually for a modest charge. The condition report does not form part of any contract between McTear's and the buyer, and all lots are offered "as is" in accordance with our Terms of Business available on our website.


Sold for £650
Estimated at £400 - £600

Condition Report
Condition is good overall, with no visible or known issues.

Request a free auction estimate

Complete the form below and one of our specialists will get back to you.

Please upload at least 1 image

Drag and drop .jpg images here to upload, or click here to select images.