Sir George Clausen was the son of a Danish interior decorator. His mother was Scottish in descent.
Clausen began his career with the London firm of decorators, Messrs Trollope, at the age of fourteen. He then went on to study at the South Kensington School of Art and at the Antwerp Academy. He made his début at the Royal Academy with High Mass at a Fishing Village on the Zuyder Zee (1876; Castle Museum, Nottingham).
His work from this point began to show the influence of William Quiller Orchardson and also of JW. However in 1880 he came under the influence of the rustic naturalism of Jules Bastien-Lepage, and began producing a series of works of peasants working on the land, for example, Labourers After Dinner (1884; Private Collection, Australia) and The Mowers (1892; Usher Art Gallery, Lincoln).
Clausen was a member of the Society of British Artists, a society which elected JW its President in June 1886. Clausen was also one of the founder members of the New English Art Club. At the first exhibition of the NEAC in June 1888 JW showed A White Note (YMSM 44) and a recent etching of Brussels.
Clausen was amongst those proposed invitees to a dinner organised by W. C. Symons to congratulate JW on being made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Munich, a dinner which was to be held at the Criterion in Piccadilly on 1 May 1889 (#00631). Clausen was a keen supporter of the work of the Glasgow Boys at their first exhibition at the Grosvenor Gallery in 1890. From 1904-06 he held the post of Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy and in 1917 he was made an official war artist.
Clausen, George, 'Bastien-Lepage and Modern Realism', Scottish Art Review, vol. 1 1888, pp. 114-15; Clausen, George, Royal Academy Lectures on Painting, London, 1913; Clausen, George, 'Autobiographical Notes', Artwork, vol. 25, 1931, pp. 12-24; Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; McConkey, Kenneth, Sir George Clausen, RA, 1852-1944, exhibition catalogue, Royal Academy, London, 1980; McConkey, Kenneth, Memory and Desire: Painting in Britain and Ireland at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London, 2002; McConkey, Kenneth, 'Sir George Clausen', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, http://www.groveart.com (accessed 22 February 2002).