This sketch is one of a series drawn by Augustus John of T.E. Lawrence during the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. Having served as a war artist in the First World War, John found success with his portraits of famous literary and society figures and he was chosen to paint many official portraits at the Peace Conference, including oils of Lawrence, now in the collection of the Tate Gallery, and the Emir Feisal.
Popularly known as 'Lawrence of Arabia', Thomas Edward Lawrence became famous after the war for his exploits as British Military liaison officer during the Arab Revolt of 1916-18, actions that only became general knowledge in 1919 and which excited considerable interest and admiration from the public. In early 1919, at the suggestion of the Foreign Office, Lawrence was chosen to act as the advisor and translator for the Emir Feisal of Hejaz at the Peace Conference held at Versailles. Although the Middle East was of secondary importance during the conference, and Arab claims to Syria were stiffly opposed by Clemenceau, Lawrence continued to spend the immediate post-war years fighting to secure justice for the Arabs.
The portraits that Augustus John produced in 1919 have become some of the most iconic and enduring images of Lawrence of Arabia. John's drawing of Lawrence wearing a traditional Arabian ghutra, now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, was used to illustrate both T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 1926, and Revolt in the Desert, 1927.