LGBTQ Heroes: John Craxton

The gay man who became an important painter.

LGBTQ Heroes: John Craxton

John Craxton was an English painter.


Born in 1922, Craxton studied art in Paris.

Craxton returned to London upon the outbreak of WWII in 1939, where he continued his studies.

Rejected for military service, on medical grounds, held his first solo exhibition in London in 1942. His work was seen as part of the neo-romantic revival – later work focused more on pastoral themes.

After the war he travelled to the Isles of Scilly, Switzerland, Istanbul, Spain, and Italy, but spent most of his time in Greece – especially on the island of Crete.

Much of Craxton’s work focused on military men – the soldiers and sailors he encountered in Greece.

From 1970, Craxton was based permanently in Crete but also continued to spend time working in London.

Personal life

Significant relationships included Richard Olney, and Richard Riley. As a young man, he was close friends with Lucien Frued.

Craxton died in 2009, aged 87.