HISTORY OF THE NEW
1 JUNE - 29 JULY
EDINBURGH & LONDON
Our summer show brings together artists who found themselves working at the threshold of the modern. It was this self-awareness and urge to make it new that motivated them as individuals and, for some, brought them into movements. They rejected the received wisdom of their day in favour of forging new ways of making art. They saw the world around them differently and made their mark telling us how. Amongst the myriad paintings and objects that will be on display in our two galleries in Edinburgh and London this summer are works from the 19th and 20th centuries; British and Scottish artists who worked as pioneers and whose work came to define a moment.
Included in the exhibition is a rare, ebonised davenport: compact and perfectly proportioned, it epitomises both Daniel Cottier’s style and that which came to define the Aesthetic Movement. The object is articulated with gilded floral decoration and is a marriage of practicality and beauty. Drawers run down the left side whilst the right side reveals a hidden ink well. Cottier was a designer active from the mid 1860s to the end of the century. He is credited with the spread of Aestheticism in the United States.
Phoebe Traquair’s exquisite, devotional enamelware of the Life of the Virgin is among the most subtle of all her mature works. Her facility to work in a range of materials is remarkable. Traquair was the first important professional woman artist of modern Scotland and a leading figure within the Scottish Arts and Crafts movement. In 1920, she became the first woman member of the Royal Scottish Academy, reflecting her status as a leading professional designer at a time when art and design were still dominated by men.
Two large canvases represent the great 19th century landscape painter, William McTaggart: Breaking Waves and Glenramskill, both from his home ground of Machrihanish. What makes McTaggart one of the most exciting painters in the western tradition is how much his style evolved over his lifetime. A career of consistent development, McTaggart’s oeuvre moved in its influences from the Pre-Raphaelites to Impressionism through to an acknowledgement of Expressionism. From the early 1880s onwards, he began painting out of doors. McTaggart idiosyncratically anticipates much of the development of modern art.
The Glasgow Boys are well represented in a group that include Melville, Crawhall, Henry and a captivating half-length portrait of a young woman by Sir John Lavery. The Boys were a group of radical young artists, and they represent the beginnings of modernism in Scottish painting. Melville’s watercolour of a winter’s day by the edge of Duddingston Loch is absorbing and transporting.
The brush marks of reeds and bullrushes are calligraphic, decorative even, and yet the whole is a sublime essay in tonality. George Henry’s portrait of a young woman in arresting primary colour reflects the subject’s self-possession. Crawhall’s mastery of watercolour and gouache on linen perfectly captures a thoroughbred racehorse as well as describing the motion of two elegant ladies just visible in the shade. And Sir John Lavery’s A Lady in Grey and Black of 1901 is an essay in Whistlerian greys and blacks. Her attire expresses a subtle bravura, and her bold red lips punctuate the refinement. Acquired by a patron of the artist, this painting has remained in the same family until now and has not been exhibited since 1914.
The jewel-like oil La Lavandeuse by Harold Gilman brings us to the beginning of modern art in Britain. As a founding member of the Camden Town Group, and later the London School, his work took subjects from everyday life and human experience. It was the observation of life as it was really lived but painted in a highly innovative way. Post-Impressionism was still virtually unknown in Britain and the colourists of the Camden Town Group took up and adapted this style in canvases painted in pulsating colour and harmonies of soft mauves and pinks and greens. Gilman had already seen what Paris had to offer, having visited in 1910 and it is evident in this remarkable painting.
And finally, a rare, late watercolour by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Palada, Pyrénées-Orientales. He is of course best known as a hugely influential architect and designer and one of the most important figures of the Modern Style. In 1923 Mackintosh and his wife Margaret moved to the South of France. Here he painted a series of remarkable watercolours. This painting, which has not been on the market since it was acquired at the artist’s memorial exhibition in 1933, depicts the village cascading down the hillside, the shadows picked out in vibrant blue. He has made sophisticated decisions, the actions of an artist, not those of an architect.
We are delighted to be participating in Portrait Mode, a nationwide celebration marking the reopening of the National Portrait Gallery, London, this June. Portraiture is quite unlike other genres. The best of it admits us a view on a character for better or worse, a person who has played a decisive part in history, a society we don’t know or understand. All this quite apart from the sensory pleasure of the object itself. If you can, please visit us, and see these wonderful objects in person. We look forward to welcoming you.
PETER DE FRANCIA (1921 – 2012)
Tunisian Beach, 1967/1989
titled and dated on label verso
oil on canvas
76 x 64 inches 193 x 162.6 cm
The artist's estate
The Bombing of Sakiet (1959, Tate) is probably de Francia’s best known work. It was a brutal event in which sixty-nine Tunisian civilians died at the hands of French forces in an act of colonial repression. This large modern history painting depicts trauma and violence that speaks of the social reality of colonial occupation. De Francia was deeply engaged with political and cultural struggles and his early reputation was based on highly polemical and powerfully affecting paintings of contemporary atrocities.
As he moved into the 1960s, he stepped away from history painting, but his work still embodied a deeply felt humanism. Tunisian Beach depicts what could be a father and his sons gathered in the shade of a makeshift shelter. Other figures in the middle and far distance stand, walk and lie down (sunbathe?). The time of day is uncertain and what passes between them is also unclear, but de Francia has focused on and captured the subtleties of human intimacy, choosing to override the social context. The expressive handling of paint and palette is, as ever with de Francia, arresting.
ALBERTO MORROCCO obe rsa rsw (1917 – 1998)
Bagni Miramare III, 1987
signed and dated 87; inscribed 'right hand panel' on board verso
oil on panel
60 x 60 inches 152.5 x 152.5 cm
The artist's estate (no. 166C); Bourne Fine Art, Edinburgh, 2007; Private collection, Scotland
Bourne Fine Art, Alberto Morrocco, Edinburgh, 2007
Victoria Keller and Clara Young, Alberto Morrocco 1917-1998 (Edinburgh, 2008) ill. p.101, plate 68
Bagni Miramare III is typical of Morrocco’s later, intensely coloured work, for which he is best known. This beach scene is striking in its simplicity: each element is stripped back to its essentials and then recorded in a reduced palette of yellow and blue. His deliberate inclination towards naive shapes owes a lot to his admiration of Picasso and Italian artists like Marino Marini (1901-1966). The composition reads as if it were a stage set: the windbreakers positioned like wings, the players poised - and yet little is happening. Morrocco presents a scene of contentment.
Bagni Miramare III was painted as part of a triptych, but the artist intended for each piece to be a stand-alone work. Morrocco, who was the son of Italian immigrants, travelled to Italy for the first time as an adult in 1950 and returned every year. In the summer of 1987 he was in Sicily, which could be the location of this work.
JOHN BYRNE rsa (b.1940)
Boy with a Blackbird, c.1968-1969
oil on board
12 1/2 x 14 inches 31.8 x 35.6 cm
Portal Gallery, London, 1968-1969
In 1966, Byrne began submitting work to the Portal Gallery, London, on behalf of the fictional character 'Patrick', a retired labourer and hand riveter, a life loosely based on his father’s. The invented artist was offered an exhibition but, before the opening, Byrne confessed to his deception, revealing himself as the creator of Patrick’s masterpieces. With exquisite brushwork and a narrative that is never fully explained, Byrne’s images of doll-like children in Victorian clothes are fascinating and compelling. Patrick’s flat graphic style, belies the detail that, on closer inspection reveals itself: the boys hair and eyelashes, the pink trim on the orange frock, the shoelaces. The terms 'naïve' and 'primitive' are often used when describing John’s early paintings and yet they don’t really fit: John’s mind and talent being anything but. In his confessional letter to the Portal Gallery, Byrne said, “When I was doing the paintings I didn’t slip into a mantle and assume a style alien to my own. I felt at home.”. He still signs some paintings “Patrick” and when speaking to him recently, he stressed the authenticity of both painting personas.
Graduating from The Glasgow School of Art in 1963, with multiple awards, the expectations of greatness – he was described by one lecturer as "unquestionably one of the most able painters we have seen in the past 20 years" – were not fulfilled as easily as predicted. Although he was a favourite of his tutors, his interest in figurative painting went against the fashion of the day. This trait, of choosing his own path, is one that Byrne has continued throughout his career.
WAISTEL COOPER (1921 – 2003)
A group of sgraffito stoneware, 1950s
with incised sgraffito lines and oatmeal satin-glazed interiors
signed or initialled to the base
Waistel Cooper, along with his contemporaries Hans Coper and Lucie Rie, were a major force in the evolution of ceramics, instigating what would become a revolution in the forms of pottery. Elaborate Victorian pots were eschewed in favour of rough, textured, sculptural pieces.
Cooper’s route to making pots in Devon was circuitous. From Ayr Academy he attended Hospitalfield College of Art in Arbroath. In 1939 he was awarded a scholarship to Edinburgh College of Art and in 1945 he moved briefly to London – all the while a painter more than a potter - before settling in Reykjavik a year later where he built a kiln and prospected for clay.
He returned to the UK in 1950 and Henry Rothschild, the owner of Primavera - an influential gallery - began to stock Waistel’s work and included three pieces in the first exhibition of contemporary British studio ceramics: Engelse Keramiek, at the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in 1954. A solo exhibition at Primavera came the following year, followed by commercial success at the department stores of Liberty’s, Dunn’s of Bromley, and Heal’s. He reached even greater heights in 1959, with his inclusion in the British Artist Craftsmen exhibition organised by the Council of Industrial Design and the Smithsonian, where his pottery was shown alongside works by Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, John Piper, Sir Jacob Epstein, Ben Nicholson, Elizabeth Frink and Graham Sutherland. The exhibition toured North America, introducing British contemporary art to a new audience. Waistel had eradicated the distinction between pottery and art.
He moved to Culbone in Exmoor in 1956 and there, in the isolated Culbone Lodge, Waistel started using a kick-wheel and installed an oil-fired kiln. He overlooked the smallest parish church in England and was surrounded by ancient forest, in which he found new inspiration in the ferns, fungi and other organic forms that he incorporated into his work.
GRAHAM SUTHERLAND om (1903 – 1980)
Path through a field, Wye Valley, 1953
signed and dated in pencil
pencil, watercolour and gouache
25 x 10 inches 63.5 x 25.4 cm
From the mid 1950s, Sutherland spent at least half of each year in France, increasingly establishing a reputation as a portrait, as well as landscape, painter. It was a busy decade: he designed the mural The Origins of the Land for the 1950 Festival of Britain; his work was shown at the 1952 Venice Biennale and at the 1955 Bienal de Säo Paulo; and from 1953 onwards much of his time was taken up with work on the vast tapestry, Christ in Glory that was installed in Coventry Cathedral in 1962. The work that was exhibited at the Venice Biennale toured widely afterwards and was shown in an enlarged form in Paris, Amsterdam, Zurich and, in May-August 1953, at the Tate Gallery. Sutherland had an enormous impact on the next generation of artists in the uk. Loosely labelled a Neo-Romantic, Sutherland belonged to no school but was regarded as a painter in his own right.
Sutherland made his first visit to the South of France in 1947 and from then on spent part of each year there, eventually buying a house at Menton in 1955. This heralded his use of more brilliant colours, such as the hot yellows, oranges and red you see here. It led to a brighter, less densely worked approach to his painting. Sutherland's lighter application of pigments allows the white paper support to show through in parts, lending this work a luminous quality.
IAN FLEMING rsa rsw (1906 – 1994)
Mr Norrie, Gardener at Hospitalfield, c.1948-1954
oil on canvasboard
24 x 18 inches 61 x 45.7 cm
The artist's estate
Fleming is better known for his printmaking and landscape painting. However, there are a number of accomplished portraits by him in public and private collections. The sitter here is Mr Norrie, the gardener at Hospitalfield College of Art, Arbroath, painted while Fleming was Warden there from 1948-54.
Fleming’s period at Hospitalfield was important. It gave him time and allowed space for artistic development. The facilities there gave him the opportunity to experiment and clarify the conceptual approach that would direct his work for the rest of his career. In his role as warden, Fleming promoted the idea that students from the four Scottish art colleges could learn from one another. Believing that “the interchange of ideas and influences from the different colleges is one of the best features of a college like Hospitalfield”, Fleming encouraged an atmosphere of conversation and exchange.
KEITH VAUGHAN (1912 – 1977)
Landscape with Whistling Boy, Yorkshire, 1945
signed and dated 45; titled and dated on artist's label verso
gouache and ink on paper
11 x 14 1/2 inches 28 x 36.8 cm
Alex. Reid & Lefevre Ltd, London, November 1945; Sotheby’s, London, 21 June 1995, lot 90
The Lefevre Gallery, Drawings by Young British Artists, London, November 1945, no.33
During the Second World War, Keith Vaughan was billeted first to Ashton Gifford in Wiltshire and then to Malton in Yorkshire. Working as a clerk and a German interpreter, army duties precluded studio work and large-scale painting in oil, but he worked on a series of gouaches and ink drawings, depicting landscape and army life. The whistling boy of this painting is subsumed into the ominous forms of a landscape which is itself merging into intense abstraction. Wartime rationing meant there were limited art supplies available so the artist had to be particularly inventive with the little that he could find. His diary at the time (now in Tate Britain) was preoccupied by subjects such as loneliness, the horrors of war and the arrival of VE Day.
Vaughan was a British painter best known for his muted abstracts of male nudes, landscapes, and architecture. He worked in advertising until the war, when he was forced to serve despite being a conscientious objector. During his service, he befriended Graham Sutherland and John Minton and went onto live with them after the war came to an end. Together, they represented part of the Neo-Romantic circle of the immediate postwar period but, thereafter, Vaughan began to gravitate towards abstraction.
He went on to teach in London at the Camberwell College of Arts, the Central School of Art, and the Slade School. Vaughan’s troubled, personal journals extensively recorded his life and internal struggles and were published in part in 1966. In 1975, he was diagnosed with cancer and died by suicide in 1977, recording his last moments in his diary as the drugs overdose took effect. The complete diaries were published in 1989.
IAIN MACNAB (1890 – 1967)
Southern Landscape, 1933
signed, titled and numbered 52/75 in pencil to margin; edition of 75
8 x 9 3/4 inches 20.3 x 24.8 cm
Macnab’s etchings and in particular his wood engravings are amongst his finest work. A self-taught etcher, Macnab eventually deemed it too facile and in 1929 took up wood engraving on the grounds that it provided more rigour. As a teacher at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, a school he set up in 1925, he also encouraged his students to take it up. His theory as a tutor was not to train students to paint and draw what they saw, but to encourage them to learn for themselves how to express their emotional reactions to a subject. Macnab’s own interest lay in the treatment of the subject rather than the subject itself and yet, though a modernist, he remained a representational artist throughout his career. However, his fascination with composition and design found perhaps its clearest expression in wood engraving – a medium in which every mark counts and where the whole must be thoroughly considered in advance.
Southern Landscape was described in 1978 by Albert Garrett, author of A History of British Wood Engraving:
“It is a remarkable technical achievement and a very fine example of the shimmering silvery greys peculiar to wood engraving only. The silvery greys arise from the exacting control of the amount of light which is allowed to penetrate the black and white lines, which must be narrow enough not to appear optically white. These qualities are rare.”
CHARLES J. NOKE (1858 – 1941) & HARRY NIXON (1900 – 1950)
Chang jar and cover, c.1930
for Royal Doulton (maker); signed 'Noke', monogrammed 'HN' and
inscribed 'Chang Royal Doulton' to base
flambé glazed earthenware
7 1/4 x 8 inches 18.4 x 20.3 cm
Charles Noke joined Doulton in 1889. Later, as art director, he went on to revolutionize the company’s design and manufacturing processes. Spurred by consumer demand for Asian ceramics, Doulton sought to revive the aesthetic of copper-rich Ming Dynasty glazes, characterised by distinctive rich, deep-red glaze slashed with streaks of purple and turquoise. Unable to consistently produce the effects, Doulton recruited ceramic chemist Cuthbert Bailey and potter Bernard Moore, with whom Noke experimented with flambe glaze designs. Through careful control of oxygen levels during firing and the introduction of copper oxides at key stages, the first modern commercial examples of the method were revived. The range was unveiled by Doulton at the St. Louis Exhibition of 1904, winning an unprecedented thirty awards.
Noke - with a creative team of his son, Cecil, and premier company artist Harry Nixon - led Doulton’s research into flambe glazes from 1907. These efforts culminated in the introduction of its acclaimed Chang Ware in 1925. Named after the (possibly mythical) Song dynasty potter, Chang the Elder, the range is characterised by its layers of thick, colourful, running glazes and crackle finish over a flambe base.
STANSMORE DEAN STEVENSON (1866 – 1944)
Portrait of a woman, c.1928-1930
signed 'Stansmore Stevenson'
oil on canvas
6 x 4 1/2 inches 15.2 x 11.4 cm
original papier mâché frame
Stansmore Dean’s story describes that of many female painters of the time: a talent recognised by peers and institutions followed by a near cessation of activity upon marriage and, in her case, step-motherhood.
Dean, a Glaswegian, trained at Glasgow School of Art from 1883. Her contemporaries included Bessie MacNicol and Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A turning point in her career arrived in 1890 when she became the first female student to be awarded the Haldane Travelling Scholarship, which enabled her to study in Paris at the Académie Colarossi. From 1894, Dean had a studio in Glasgow and during this period she spent the summer months painting in the south of France and, later, Brittany. A member of the Society of Lady Artists’ Club in Glasgow, she started exhibiting at the Glasgow Institute in 1884 and by the time she married fellow artist Robert Macaulay Stevenson - and took on the care of his daughter, Jean - in 1902 her name was already well known among the members of the Glasgow School.
Dean was one of only two female artists in the 1906 exhibition Glasgow School of Painters at the Chicago Institute. And in 1931 the Scottish National Portrait Gallery bought her portrait of writer Neil Munro, painted in 1905, which was the first purchase by the institution of a living artist who also happened to be a woman.
CHARLES RENNIE MACKINTOSH (1868 – 1928)
Palada, Pyrénées-Orientales, c.1924-1927
pencil and watercolour
20 1/2 x 20 1/2 inches 52 x 52 cm
Purchased at Memorial Exhibition, Glasgow, 1933, by William Davidson, Windyhill, Kilmacolm, and thence by descent, on loan to the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, until 2023
McLellan Galleries, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Memorial Exhibition, Glasgow, 1933, no.74; The Empire Exhibition, Glasgow, 1938, no.219; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Mackintosh Watercolours, Glasgow, 1978-1979, no.200; The Fine Art Society, Charles Rennie Mackintosh Memorial Exhibition: A Reconstruction, Glasgow, 1983, no.74; National Galleries of Scotland, Charles Rennie Mackintosh in France, Edinburgh, 2005, no.1
Roger Billcliffe, Mackintosh Watercolours (London, 1977) pg.44, ill. pg.134, no.200
Pamela Robertson & Philip Long, Charles Rennie Mackintosh in France (Edinburgh, 2005) ill. pp.32-33, plate 1
In the late autumn of 1923 Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, left Chelsea where they had been living since 1915 and moved to southwest France, probably at the suggestion of their friend JD Fergusson. They were settled at Amélie-les Bains by the end of the year and spent much of 1924 exploring the area around the coast at Collioure and Port Vendres. They returned to Amélie in November 1924 and Margaret wrote to their friend Jessie Newbery on 18th December. She describes Mackintosh as “happy as a sand boy - tremendously interested in his painting and of course doing some remarkable work… He is absorbed in this landscape – since we got here on Nov 22 he has been able to work outside every day but two – from 9.30 till three – in brilliant sunshine”.
This is almost certainly when he painted Palalda, Pyrénées-Orientales and, possibly, the view of the farmhouse at Mont Alba. The village of Palalda cascaded down the hillside and Mackintosh took a distant viewpoint from across the Tech, looking up towards the village. In fact, the painting is a combination of views from several separate points and Mackintosh was obviously feeling confident enough, after a year in France, to make these painterly decisions rather than produce a straightforward topographical view. He even went as far as carefully cutting out pieces of paper to stick over some of the houses to change or re-arrange aspects of the composition. The hillside behind the town is omitted completely – a view only possible from the riverside – and the red tile roofs of the houses have been changed to grey and black, perhaps to suit the cold light of the winter’s day when Mackintosh was working here. These are sophisticated decisions, actions of an artist, not those of an architect making notes in a sketchbook. In this painting Mackintosh crosses the divide between artist and tourist, immersing himself in his subject, taking control of it.
With thanks to Roger Billcliffe
PAUL NASH (1889 – 1946)
The Tide, Dymchurch, 1920
signed, titled, dated and inscribed 'To Christine Bradhurst for her wedding from Paul Nash'
in pencil to margin; edition of 30
12 1/4 x 16 1/2 inches 31 x 42 cm
Alexander Postan, The complete graphic work of Paul Nash (London, 1973) pp.22-23, no.L9
For Paul Nash, Dymchurch became a place of reconciliation of both distant and recent traumas. Following an incident in childhood where he almost drowned, Nash viewed the sea as “cold and cruel waters, usually in a threatening mood, pounding and rattling along the shore”. It had therefore remained mostly absent from his early work. But the horrors of war seemed to cancel out all sense of threat that the sea once posed and became an opportunity for Nash to relate his emotions to direct experience of the landscape. He was particularly impressed by the sea walls that snaked their way along the coast. This system of architectural structures juxtaposed the natural with the artificial and gave Nash the impression of interaction between the land and sea.
With the horizon line out of sight, and the dark rolling waters of the winter sea dominating the image, The Tide, Dymchurch demonstrates the unrelenting actions of the waves against the beach, and the vane effort of the wooden groins to retain the beach that the waves are slowly but surely washing away.
CHRISTOPHER RICHARD WYNNE NEVINSON ara (1889 – 1946)
The Street Acrobat, 1919
signed and dated 1919
chalk and pastel on paper
24 1/2 x 19 inches 62.2 x 48.3 cm
Private collection, 1925; The collection of José and Muriel Campus; Private collection, London
The Leicester Galleries, Memorial Exhibition of Pictures by C.R.W. Nevinson, London, 1946;
Imperial War Museum, C.R.W. Nevinson: The Twentieth Century, London, 1999, no.114
Albert Rutherston and Osbert Sitwell, C.R.W. Nevinson (London, 1925) plate 9
Richard Ingleby, Jonathan Black, David Cohen, Gordon Cooke, C.R.W. Nevinson: The Twentieth Century
(London, 1999) pp.168-169
Although Nevinson is celebrated as a war artist, his other great subject was the city. Crowds interested him and, in the same year as this pastel, he made two large lithographs - The Workers and Wet Evening, Oxford Street - in which hordes of people move cheek by jowl. The commotion of life in post-war London and, a little later, the modern city of Jazz Age New York became his inspiration. In The Street Acrobat, the performer’s contortions on the wet cobblestones appear to be of little interest to the men and women queuing. Looking away and wrapped in their raincoats, they instill the work with a sense of unease.
Nevinson is best remembered for his formidable depictions of the First World War. As an ambulance driver attending to wounded French soldiers, he was witness to the visceral machinations of war: the havoc wreaked by modern weaponry on the human body. Bringing together Cubist and Vorticist pictorial elements, Nevinson’s war paintings immediately solidified his place as one of the most important artists of the day.
SIR DAVID YOUNG CAMERON ra rsa hrsw re (1865 – 1945)
Ben Vair, 1916
signed; signed and titled on artist's label verso
oil on canvas
15 1/2 x 23 1/2 inches 39.5 x 60 cm
Royal Academy, London, 1916, no.797
Cameron turned to the austere beauty of Scotland’s wilderness in the early 20th century. His style was individual and altered little during his life. The palette of his work was the only element that changed radically: from sober greys and browns early in the century to vivid blues, reds and golds by the 1930s. From the beginning of his painting career, he eliminated extraneous detail, which gave his landscapes an ascetic sublimity and drama. His aim was to show “that spell of mystic beauty, haunted by strangeness of form and colour, remote from the facts and feelings of common life”.
Beinn a’Bheithir, or Ben Vair, sits southwest of the village of Ballachulish. The horseshoe shaped ridge overlooks Loch Leven.
FRANCIS CAMPBELL BOILEAU CADELL rsa rsw (1883 – 1937)
Harvest Moon - Yachts on Iona Sound, c.1914
signed; inscribed in pencil ‘Harvest Moon – Yachts in Iona Sound – No 2’ verso
oil on canvas
14 x 17 inches 35.6 x 43.2 cm
Purchased from the artist by Sir Patrick Ford and thence by descent
Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell was a Scottish Colourist painter, renowned for his depictions of the elegant New Town interiors of his native Edinburgh, and for his work on the island of Iona. He began visiting Iona in 1912 and continued, apart from the war years, to visit until he was struck down by ill health in 1937.
There is reason to believe that the yacht depicted in Harvest Moon belonged to the wealthy Glasgow ship builder, George W Service, who Cadell met on his first trip to Iona in 1912, and again the following summer when Service started buying Cadell’s work.
This is a rare night-time picture by Cadell, lit by the extraordinary glow of the harvest moon, the first full moon of the autumn equinox, which lights up the waters of the Sound of Iona, a stretch of water between the Isle of Iona and Ross of Mull on the south west coast of Scotland. The harvest moon was so called by farmers who used the extended period of lightness to gather their autumnal crops. It is not known exactly when this was painted, but it is believed to have been one of his early paintings of Iona; there are similar day time compositions dating from 1914, and the way the paint is applied with longer more fluid brushstrokes than you find in his post 1920s work indicates an earlier dating.
Sir Patrick Ford was an old school friend of Cadell’s and became one of his patrons, paying for the artist’s trip to Venice in 1910. Ford was an MP for Edinburgh and later became Solicitor General.
WILLIAM McTAGGART rsa rsw (1835 – 1910)
oil on canvas
38 3/4 x 58 inches 98.4 x 147.3 cm
The artist's trustees; Private collection and thence by descent
The Fine Art Society, London, January 1981
James L. Caw, William McTaggart: A Biography and an Appreciation (Glasgow, 1917) p.277
What makes McTaggart one of the most exciting of Scottish 19th century painters is how his much his style evolved over his lifetime. He is one of the most outstanding and original landscape painters Scotland has produced. A career of consistent development, McTaggart’s oeuvre moved in its influences from the Pre-Raphaelites to Impressionism through to an acknowledgement of Expressionism. From the early 1880s onwards, he began painting out of doors. However, much of McTaggart’s body of work retains a striking commitment to narrative. As he said: “It’s the heart that’s the thing. You want to express something that appeals to our common humanity.”
From 1876 McTaggart returned annually to his native Kintyre in the west of Scotland. Caw describes pictures painted in the summer of 1908 as having “attained very wonderful effects of light and colour and atmosphere by an economy of means and subtlety of handling greater even than he had hitherto used”. He had life-long interest in the depiction of children from early on. His childhood scenes have a wistful air that suggests nostalgia for the exuberance of youth, depicting the feel of childhood rather than its paraphernalia. Late in his life, his figures became so absorbed into their landscape settings that they are often invisible at first glance.
PHOEBE ANNA TRAQUAIR hrsa (1852 – 1936)
The Life of the Virgin, 1906
three plaques in enamel with foil on copper, framed back to back on a copper alloy stand
height 8 1/2 inches 21.6 cm
Harry Traquair, the artist's son, until 2004; Private collection, Scotland
Elizabeth Cumming, Phoebe Anna Traquair, 1852-1936 (Edinburgh, 1993) ill. p.80, no.93
Phoebe Traquair worked in an extraordinarily wide variety of media: enamelling, book binding, embroidery, illustrated manuscripts, quilting and mural painting. Her ideas at this time ran in parallel with William Morris, who similarly blurred distinctions between fine and decorative arts; both also shared a Christian affinity with nature as the prime example of God’s design. Traquair was the first important professional woman artist of modern Scotland and was a leading figure within the Scottish Arts and Crafts movement. In 1920, she became the first woman member of the Scottish Royal Academy, reflecting her status as a leading professional designer at a time when art and design were still dominated by men.
Traquair’s architect son Ramsay designed a number of frames and stands for her “display” enamels. It was fabricated by J. M. Talbot (other joint works by Talbot and Traquair are in the V&A). Some of these were elaborate reworkings of 16th-century French and especially German metalwork. It supports three enamel plaques which narrate the life of the Virgin, from The Annunciation through to The Motherhood of Christ to The Three Marys the Empty Tomb, all subjects which she had previously illustrated in the mural decoration of Edinburgh buildings. The three enamels were worked to new, animated designs which show Traquair’s extraordinary facility in working the copper then drawing and colouring her design in the difficult medium of enamel.
The central plaque in this narration, sometimes also called Mary Teaching Christ to Walk, shows her tenderly holding Christ with arms extended in a manner which anticipates the Crucifixion. This scene was reworked as a single enamel plaque in the same year for her son Harry who would later also own this piece. They are among the first enamels to be designed and fired in the kiln she had installed at The Bush at Colinton, the Traquairs’ home from 1906. These enamels are among the most subtle of all her mature works.
SIR JOHN LAVERY ra rsa (1856 – 1941)
A Lady in Grey and Black, 1901
signed; signed and titled on artist's labels verso
oil on canvas
28 x 24 3/4 inches 71 x 63 cm
Nicol Paton Brown (1853-1934) and thence by descent
International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, Third Exhibition, London, 1901, no.73 as A Lady in Black and White (ill. in catalogue); Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, Salon du Champ-de-Mars, Paris, 1902, no.705 as Gris et Noir; Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 1903, no.269 as A Lady in Grey and Black; The Grosvenor Gallery, A Retrospective Exhibition of the Works of John Lavery, London, 9 June - 31 July 1914, no.79
‘Our London Letter’, published in Cambridge Daily News, The Citizen, and Eastern Daily Press, 5 October 1901
‘The Picture Galleries’, Lloyds Weekly Newspaper, 6 October 1901, p.4
‘International Exhibition’, The Morning Post, 7 October 1901, p.6
‘Notes and Comments’, The Yorkshire Post, 7 October 1901, p.4
‘London Letter’, Bradford Observer, 8 October 1901, p.4
B. Kendall, ‘The Third Exhibition of the International Society …’, The Artist, vol.xxxii, no.263, November 1901, p.128
‘Le Salon de la Nationale des Beaux Arts’, L’Écho de Paris and Journal des Débats Politiques, 19 April, 1902
‘Le Salon’, Gazette des Beaux Arts, Tome 27, Periode 3, 1902, p.46
‘The New Paris Salon’, The Scotsman, 18 April 1902, p.5
‘The Paris Salon – Pleasing Exhibition’, The Morning Post, 19 April 1902, p.7
Gabriel Mourey, ‘Some Paintings and Sculpture at the Paris Salons’, The Studio, vol.xxvi, no.3, June 1902, p.192
James Stanley Little, ‘A Cosmopolitan Painter: John Lavery’, The Studio, vol.xxvii, 1902, ill. pp.117-118
‘The Royal Scottish Academy – The Annual Exhibition’, Aberdeen Press and Journal, 13 February 1903, p.5
‘The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibition’, Edinburgh Evening News, 20 February 1903, p.2
Walter Shaw Sparrow, John Lavery and his Work (London, 1911) pp.143, 182 as A Lady in Grey and Black: Miss May Robbins
‘Notable Portraits by John Lavery …’, The Sphere, 6 June 1914, ill. p.294
‘Exhibition of the Work of Mr John Lavery – A Painter of Women’, Evening Mail, 8 June 1914, p.2
Kenneth McConkey, John Lavery: A Painter and His World, (Edinburgh, 2010) pp.80, 224
Looking back over recent Salon exhibits in 1905, the French critic, Camille Mauclair, reflected upon John Lavery’s ‘deep tenderness and profound sense of feminity’. He addresses, said Mauclair, ‘the problem of summoning life from the depth of shadows’ and brings it to a solution. ‘Everything possesses stability and raison d’être …’1 There was, in short, a kind of perfection in artist’s recent paintings of female models that had compelled the French State to acquire its second Lavery, Printemps (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) in 1904. That sense of an emergent being, a young woman who traverses the picture plane and looks round at the spectator, was however, something that had been seen two years before in the beguiling A Lady in Grey and Black, the present canvas.
Originally exhibited as A Lady in Black and White in 1901, and identified as Miss May Robbins by Walter Shaw Sparrow, a certain mystery surrounds John Lavery’s retitled Gris et Noir, as it was known to the Paris audience when exhibited the following year. Sometimes thought to represent the artist’s German model, Mary Auras, and mis-dated 1902 by Shaw Sparrow, contemporary illustrations of works contained in the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers exhibition reveal that the work was painted in the preceding year and despite its subsequent change of title, and the artist’s proclivity for reworking pictures after they had been in exhibitions, it remains unchanged since that first outing. 2
The reason is simple. When first shown, the picture was much admired, and, one of four recent Laverys on display, it was regarded as one of the ‘most notable features’ of a show that contained works by Whistler, Monet, Pissarro, Renoir and other international exhibitors.3 What was described as ‘a very pretty study’ was praised for its spontaneity and ‘true artistic touch’.4 In Paris, where anglomanie was the rage, Lavery was applauded for ‘his cursive and flexible way of measuring out the tones and his beautiful handling of blacks.’5
Whether ‘black and white’ or ‘grey and black’, Lavery’s title, alluding to tonal harmony, placed him in the Whistler camp at a time when the two artists had evolved a close working partnership as President and Vice-President of the International Society. It was Lavery’s job to manage Whistler, and indeed, on at least one occasion, provide overnight accommodation when the American was visiting London. Exchanges that had first occurred in 1887 and were then renewed in Whistler’s Paris studio in 1892, were resumed in Lavery’s studio in 5 Cromwell Place, at the end of the decade. While the older artist proffered his opinions they were not always taken to heart.6 Although he had every appreciation of Whistler and indeed had his own close encounter with the American’s sources in Velázquez, Lavery’s visual eclecticism was more diverse.7
Referring to the present canvas in 1902, James Stanley Little declared that it had ‘much of the tenderness and grace of Romney’.8 While Gainsborough and Lawrence were invoked by others, patrons sometimes approached Lavery with a specific Old Master prototype in mind, presumably because they knew he was highly visually literate.9 By 1914, the painter’s sources even extended to Reynolds and Hoppner, as well as Romney, but whether this was so, or merely a critic’s attempt to impress, is conjecture.10 One can see in the classic ‘Romney’ pose of A Lady in Grey and Black, intimations of what was to come in the tiny A Lady in White c.1903 and the grand full length, Hazel in Black and Gold 1916.
What remains supremely important in A Lady in Grey and Black, however, is to observe the confident placing of the figure, the sensitive tonal harmony and overall, the delicate whiff of romance – what a Belgian critic, adroitly characterized as ‘belle allure’.
With thanks to Kenneth McConkey
Emeritus Professor of Art History at the University of Northumbria
1. Camille Mauclair, ‘John Lavery’, L’Art et Les Artistes, 1905, Tome 2, pp. 6-7; ‘On apercoit que peu à peu la grande tendresse, le profonde sens de féminité … le probleme de la vie ailleurante appelée du fond des ombres … Tout a sa consistanée, sa raison d’être …’
2. The quality of reproduction in 1901 clearly makes a definitive judgement impossible.
3. ‘Notes and Comments’, The Yorkshire Post, 7 October 1901, p.4
4. ‘Our London Letter’, Cambridge Daily News, 5 October 1901, p.3; ‘The Picture Galleries’, Lloyds Weekly Newspaper, 6 October 1901, p.4
5. ‘Le Salon’, Gazette des Beaux Arts, Tome 27, Periode 3, 1902, p.464; ‘…sa manière cursive et souple de filer le ton et son beau maniement des noirs.’
6.See for instance Kenneth McConkey, ‘No tampering, no faking no artifice, Her First Communion by John Lavery’, British Art Journal, vol.xxi, Spring 2020, pp. 54-59. Her First Communion (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin) was shown alongside Gris et Noir in the Salon in 1902.
7. Lavery registered as a copyist in the Prado for two works by Velázquez in May-June 1892.
8. James Stanley Little, ‘A Cosmopolitan Painter: John Lavery’, The Studio, vol.xxvii, 1902, p.118
9. See McConkey 2010, p.94.
10. Hugh Stokes, ‘The Art of Mr Lavery’, Country Life, 13 June 1914, p.890
11. L’Art Moderne, Treizième Année, no.40, October 1893, p.314
ROBERT BROUGH ra arsa (1872 – 1905)
A lady by the fireside, c.1897-1905
oil on canvas
12 x 16 inches 30.5 x 40.6 cm
Sotheby's, London, 19 November 1980; Private collection, England
Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, Robert Brough arsa, 1995, no.65
Robert Brough’s talent was beautifully summarised by his great friend and mentor, John Singer Sargent: ‘...the grace, the fluidity, the lightness of touch that are so delightful in Brough; that very rare quality of surface that seems to make the actual paint a precious substance.’
Brough was a precocious talent: he started at the newly opened Gray’s School of Art and then to Edinburgh to attend the Royal Scottish Academy Life School. By the end of his first year, he was awarded three significant prizes. Brough completed further training in Paris, enrolling at the Acadamie Julien with his great friend, the Scottish Colourist S. J. Peploe, before travelling on in search of Sisley at Moret-sur-Seine and then Gauguin at Pont Aven in Brittany. By 1897, and the age of twenty-five, he was working in London alongside Sargent. Brough’s life was cut short at the age of thirty-two when he suffered significant burns as the result of a train accident, Sargent hurried to be by his side at the end.
His career lasted just sixteen years and, in the period, following his death, artistic fashions moved quickly away from the elegant portraiture that artists like Brough and Sargent had favoured. This may explain why an artist so lauded in his day is relatively little known now.
WILLIAM PAGE ATKINSON WELLS rba (1872 – 1923)
In the Meadow
oil on canvas
25 x 30 inches 63.5 x 76.2 cm
The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh, May, 1984; Private collection, Scotland
This composition - with figures in the foreground and two thirds of the canvas given over to sky - is typical of Wells. He often placed a lone figure, or sometimes a mother and child, in a meadow or a garden. Wells relished the thick application of paint and he used the impasto to give texture and depth to the grasses, wildflowers and hedgerow. Mostly his scenes are rural; he also painted the Lancashire coastline at Sunderland point and also Appledore in Devon.
Born in Glasgow, Wells studied at the Slade before moving to Sydney, Australia, where he lived and worked for five years. He returned to Europe, working for a time in Paris and rural France where he acquired an admiration for the Barbizon School with its rich tones and glowing colours. After a short stay in Glasgow he settled in Preston, Lancashire, he also lived for a period on the Isle of Man. He finally settled in Appledore, Devon.
JOSEPH CRAWHALL rsw (1861 – 1913)
In the Paddock, c.1894-1900
gouache on linen
11 1/4 x 15 inches 28.6 x 38 cm
The Fine Art Society, Edinburgh, 1985; Private collection, Scotland
Glasgow Art Gallery, A Century of Art in Glasgow, 1835-1935, Glasgow, May - June 1935; The Fine Art Society,
Festival Exhibition: Camels, Cobwebs and Honeysuckle, Edinburgh, 1985, no.24
Adrian Bury, Joseph Crawhall: The Man and Artist (London, 1958) p.103, plate 40
Vivien Hamilton, Joseph Crawhall 1861-1913: One of the Glasgow Boys (Glasgow, 1990) ill. p.135
Crawhall’s love of horses is palpably expressed in this portrait of a racing horse. The artist would look at an animal or bird for as long as an hour. Sometimes he would make notes in a sketchbook, but more often than not he would memorise the form and colour.
Born to a wealthy family in Morpeth, Crawhall was able to devote his life to his two passions: hunting and painting. His father was a cultivated man and an amateur artist and he encouraged his son to draw. Following the marriage of his sister to the architect brother of EA Walton, Crawhall moved to Glasgow to continue his studies. In 1879, Guthrie, Walton and Crawhall worked together at Roseneath and Brig o’Turk, repeating the exercise in 1881 with Harry Spence. Up until 1882, Crawhall had been working in oil, but after a spell in Paris, he returned to watercolour. From 1882-83, he worked closely with the Glasgow Boys at Cockburnspath, and in 1884, visited Lavery in Morocco. He was thus closely involved in the early years of the Glasgow School, despite differing from the other 'Boys' in his preference for gouache and body-colour, rather than oil. Crawhall was an unorthodox artist: he would work in short bursts following long periods of inactivity, and rarely worked from nature, relying instead upon his extraordinary visual memory. Most at home in the country, Crawhall developed a fluent, almost calligraphic way of painting, where each cursive brushstroke creates an individual mark. This artistic talent, combined with his deep understanding for animals, turned Crawhall into one of the greatest draughtsmen of his generation.
TALWIN MORRIS (1865 – 1911)
Glasgow School Doorplate, c.1895
brass with repoussé decoration
28 3/4 x 3 1/4 inches 73 x 8.3 cm
Walter W. Blackie, Glasgow; Christie's, Glasgow; Private collection
After spending part of his early career working as an art editor in London, Talwin Morris took up a post as Arts Manager for Glasgow publisher Blackie & Son in 1898, a position he held until his death in 1911. He quickly became acquainted with Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the circle of artists associated with Blackie and the Glasgow School of Art, which had a significant influence on his work. Perhaps best known for his book designs, Morris also produced pieces of furniture, textiles and metalwork, which were incorporated into many of his decorative schemes, including his own home at Dunglass Castle and the refurbishment of W. W. Blackie’s Printing Works where this panel formed part of the decorative scheme on a room divider screen. The panel demonstrates the key characteristics of the Glasgow Style, with its stylised and linear plant forms and Glasgow roses.
CHARLES FRANCIS ANNESLEY VOYSEY (1857 – 1941)
Ventilation grille / trivet, c.1892
possibly manufactured by Comyn Ching & Co., Ipswich, or T. Elsley & Co.
6 x 13 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches 15.2 x 34.3 x 21.6 cm
Karen Livingstone, C. F. A. Voysey: Arts and Crafts Designer (London, 2016) pp.240-241, ill. plate 302
Voysey’s use of cut-out silhouettes in metal, reducing his motifs to their very simplest outline, is said to have been influenced by the pierced metal fittings at the Houses of Parliament, designed by Pugin. He had an exceptional talent for pattern-making and designed wallpapers for Jeffery & Co. and Essex & Co.; textiles for Alexander Morton; tiles for Pilkington’s and later Minton and carpets sold through Liberty. From the mid-1880s he experimented with furniture, much of which was made by F. C. Nielsen in a severe, distinctive vernacular manner using oak. He also designed cutlery, tableware, metalwork and lighting made by. Unlike many of his generation Voysey did not engage with other designers in a collaborative way or with co-operative ventures. He intentionally avoided any form of “collectivism” and was proud of his individuality. His characteristic style was sophisticated yet simple and is seen here in the quirky pheasant like birds standing in profile among the stylised grass and trees.
WILLIAM DE MORGAN (1839 – 1917)
Arts & Crafts ruby lustre tile, c.1890
6 x 6 inches 15.2 x 15.2 cm
Martin Greenwood, The Designs of William De Morgan (Ilminster, 2007) p.130, ill. plate 969
De Morgan’s animal tiles are now treasured as individual designs by collectors. Originally, they were alternated with plainer tiles when used in fireplaces or for other decoration. This tile depicts a partridge on scrolled foliate ground and is a design rarely seen.
De Morgan perfected his Persian glazes whilst working to restore the Arab Hall at Leighton House in the late 1870s. His Persian-style pottery was amongst the most successful and easily recognisable products of the British Arts and Crafts Movement. De Morgan imbued his designs with humour and originality mixing inspiration for imagery from Romanesque, Medieval and Italian Renaissance. Fantastical birds and beasts, Hispanic ships, Persian motifs and floral designs are reminiscent of his colleague and close friend William Morris.
While studying at the Royal Academy, de Morgan met William Morris and his circle and he began experimenting with stained glass and pottery, later establishing a pottery works in Chelsea. He was an avid explorer of the techniques of his craft, studying methods of pattern-transfer, firing and the chemistry of glazes. His passion for Oriental design, particularly from the Islamic world, led him to rediscover the technique for producing iridescent lustreware between 1873 and 1874.
The influence of Middle Eastern art on British design in the late 19th century was considerable. Owen Jones’s Alhambra (1836–45) and Grammar of Ornament (1856) helped spread the understanding of Persian and eastern design principles and motifs. Manufacturers such as Minton & Co. and Theodore Deck, in France, took up the style. By 1875 de Morgan was working extensively with a Persian colour palette of dark blue, intense green and turquoise, deep red and yellow. The influence of C15th and C16th Isnik ware, with its geometric motifs and fantastical creatures, is apparent in his designs of this period.
GEORGE HENRY ra rsa rsw (1858 – 1943)
The Red Scarf, 1888
signed and dated 1888
watercolour and bodycolour
16 1/4 x 13 inches 41.3 x 33 cm
By the end of the 1880s, Henry had become more concerned with pattern, colour and design. And by 1888, there was a clear change of direction: the way he handled paint, the confined space in which he placed his subject and the flattened perspective. His paintings became more decorative, with clashing colours and an almost complete lack of spatial depth. Compared to other work of this period, this watercolour maintains a relatively straightforward approach to the representation of the young woman’s head. However, the vivid ultramarine backdrop with repeating black daubs closes the space around her; the contrasting blood red scarf is a bold statement that contributes to the picture’s decorative element. Henry has painted her from slightly below which gives the sitter a sense of command, her lips slightly parted lend it an immediacy.
The young woman in this watercolour is probably the same model, seen in profile in a watercolour of the same year in Kelvingrove titled Theresa.
WILLIAM McTAGGART rsa rsw (1835 – 1910)
Breaking Waves, c.1886
signed; titled on original framer label verso
oil on canvas
26 1/2 x 38 1/2 inches 67.3 x 97.8 cm
George Davidson Ltd Fine Art Dealer, Glasgow; Sir William Biggart Lang (1868-1942), Johnstone, 1917;
Nicol Paton Brown (1853-1934) and thence by descent
James L. Caw, William McTaggart: A Biography and an Appreciation (Glasgow, 1917) p.278
From 1876, McTaggart returned annually to his native Kintyre in the west of Scotland. Exposed to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean, Machrihanish Bay offers the longest continuous stretch of sand in Argyll. Its everchanging light and the sense of vastness produced by the unbroken horizon gave McTaggart endless material to draw on. The vigorous brushwork that is increasingly prominent in his later works finds parallels in Impressionist painting while still remaining part of a distinct Scottish tradition. McTaggart idiosyncratically anticipates much of the development of modern art.
In describing another similar picture, his biographer and son-in-law, Sir James Caw describes the scene as having “attained very wonderful effects of light and colour and atmosphere by an economy of means and subtlety of handling greater even than he had hitherto used”. Caw goes on to say that the “ethereal beauty of the wide sea and of the living air seem to breathe in the few pregnant touches which give the vision permanence. It is the very soul of Machrihanish that is painted here”.
ARTHUR MELVILLE arsa rsw (1855 – 1904)
Winter, Duddingston Loch, c.1885
20 x 26 inches 50.8 x 66 cm
Duddingston Loch was a constant source of inspiration for Melville, a place he regularly sketched en plein air at dawn. His obituary in the Haddington Advertiser recorded that, as a student at the RSA Schools, “the reeds at Duddingston were a favourite sketching ground of his and to gratify this taste he had to get up at five o’clock in the morning, so much work did he do during the day”.
Melville began his painting career in a country whose landscape tradition was well established. However, he never followed the path that would have seen him include the hackneyed hill and glen with baying stags. His landscape pictures are localised and focused, chosen as microcosms of the features of nature, as seen here among the reeds and ice. This closely toned watercolour of Duddingston Loch in winter takes a grey dawn light and describes the light effects on the scrub and reeds.
Where the early oils were fastidious, Melville’s watercolours display a fluency which demonstrate his increased mastery of the medium. The reeds are at once naturalistic and decorative. His technique is something to marvel at. Seemingly simple, it is composed of layer upon layer of watercolour, applied and removed; scuffed paper, invisible to the naked eye, deepens the effect, creating body. The longer we look, the more the picture reveals.
THOMAS JECKYLL (1827 – 1881)
Kettle stand, c.1882
for Robbins & Co, Dudley (maker); stamped to base with registration mark for
February 1882, cast mark no.3
7 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches 19 x 19 cm
Thomas Jeckyll trained as an architect and was active, both as an architect and designer, in London and Norfolk. He excelled in the creation of metalwork and furniture that were strongly influenced by Japanese design. His brother Henry was a brass founder in Dudley. The flat planes and schematic design of this kettle stand are indicative of Japanese design. The barley represents summer and it could also suggest heat.
In the 1860s, he came into contact with Whistler (1834-1903) and E. W. Godwin (1833-1886). By the 1870s, Jeckyll was one of the leading architects of the Aesthetic Movement and also a pioneer of Japonaiserie. He designed an interior for the Holland Park house of the collector Alexander Ionides (1833-1900), who bequeathed much of his collection of paintings to the V&A, and the dining room of a house in Princes Gate. During this project, Jeckyll’s behaviour had become quite erratic and, in his absence, Whistler took over the decorating. Due to this later painted decoration by Whistler, the room became known as the Peacock Room, and is on display in the Freer Art Gallery, Washington, DC. Jeckyll’s mental instability in 1877 marked the end of his career and he died in an asylum in 1881.
HART, SON, PEARD & CO., attributed maker
Pair of Gothic Revival three-branch candelabra, c.1880
brass set with jewelled cabochons
height 18 1/2 inches 47 cm
Hart, Son, Peard & Co. became artistic metalworkers, specialising in ecclesiastical manufactures, after merging with Peard & Jackson in 1866 to 1867. They produced exceptionally high quality metalwork for Victorian designers. The firm exhibited at all the world exhibitions from 1851 and were awarded prize medals that year and thereafter in 1862, 1867 and 1876. They produced designs for prominent designers including John Pollard Seddon and Bruce Talbert (1838-1881) and are known to have made work for William Burges, supplied silver plate to William Butterfield’s designs and produced ironwork for Alfred Waterhouse’s architectural commissions.
Noteworthy of these Gothic Revival, Puginesque candelabra is that they can be broken down to single sticks.
attr. ALFRED WATERHOUSE ra (1830 – 1905)
Aesthetic Movement corner cabinet, c.1880
for Henry Capel (attr.), London; inscribed 'Summer' and 'Autumn' on panels
walnut, with gilt embellishment, polychrome painted panels and incised decoration
83 1/2 x 21 x 21 inches 212 x 53.3 x 53.3 cm
Henry Capel was one of several furniture manufacturers who specialised in art furniture. He frequently incorporated painted panels and tiles particularly with figurative and reformist Gothic designs. Here, the two panels describe in charming detail Summer and Autumn. Mirroring each other, summer depicts ears of wheat and autumn shows bullrushes.
Capel worked particularly closely with Alfred Waterhouse, producing furniture and fittings for over 30 of Waterhouse's buildings. Waterhouse probably drew the designs for these projects, which reflect his interest in Gothic and medieval architecture. Capel is recorded as working throughout the 1870s and exhibited at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878.
LAMB OF MANCHESTER
Aesthetic Movement sofa, c.1880
ebonised wood with original Christopher Dresser butterfly design upholstery
31 1/2 x 54 x 22 inches 80 x 137.2 x 56 cm
Lamb of Manchester were a renowned cabinet making firm, founded by James Lamb. He was a Manchester cabinetmaker who started in the mid-Victorian era. James Lamb was born in 1816 and he joined the family business and turned it into a high-class interior design, decorating and furnishing firm. The firm had a cabinet making workshop in Castleford and their main gallery in John Dalton Street, Manchester, with vast furniture showrooms over three floors. Lamb of Manchester was one of the top three manufacturers of Gothic Revival, Aesthetic and Anglo-Japanese furniture in the 19th century.
ARTS & CRAFTS MOVEMENT
Portrait of a young woman, c.1870-1880
tempera on board
7 1/4 x 6 1/2 inches 19.7 x 16.5 cm
The founders of the Arts & Crafts Movement were some of the first major critics of the Industrial Revolution. Disenchanted with the impersonal, mechanised direction of society in the 19th century, they sought to return to a simpler, more fulfilling way of living. These practitioners emerged in the United Kingdom around 1860, at roughly the same time as the closely related Aesthetic Movement, but the spread of the Arts & Crafts Movement across the Atlantic to the United States in the 1890s enabled it to last longer - at least into the 1920s. Although the movement did not adopt its common name until 1887, in these two countries the Arts & Crafts existed in many variations and inspired similar contemporaneous groups of artists and reformers in Europe and North America, including Art Nouveau, the Wiener Werkstatte, the Prairie School, and many others. The faith in the ability of art to reshape society exerted a powerful influence on its many successor movements in all branches of the arts.
We do not know who painted this diminutive portrait. The artist drew influence from the work of C15th-16th painting and brought it into the present with the addition of embroidery on the blouse worn by the model. This design and style of the costume and its decoration is reminiscent of the kind of work May Morris was producing at the time.
attr. WILLIAM BURGES ara (1827 – 1881)
Wall mirror, c.1880
painted and gilded wood, patinated brass, and mirrored glass
29 1/2 x 14 1/2 x 5 inches 75 x 36.8 x 12.7 cm
William Burges is well known for his tradition of Gothic Revival and for re-establishing the architectural values of a medieval England and Europe, especially France. The Tower House, his home in Holland Park, was designed in the French Gothic Style and is regarded as the most complete example of a medieval secular interior produced in the Gothic Style. His works show the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites and are the precursor to the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Though his output is small due to his early death in 1881 at age 53, it is extremely varied. He delved not only into architecture but also metalwork, sculpture, jewellery, stained glass and furniture. Many of his designs were particularly ornate and illustrious.
Burges’s furniture was, second to his buildings, his major contribution to the Victorian Gothic Revival; as Joe Mordaunt Crook writes, “More than anyone, it was Burges, with his eye for detail and his lust for colour, who created the furniture appropriate to High Victorian Gothic.” Enormous, elaborate and highly painted, Crook considers his art furniture to be medieval in a way no other designer ever approached.
Widely regarded by his peers as one of the most brilliant designers of his day Burges created a world of architectural fantasy with his flamboyant and extravagant style. The mirror illustrated here gives way to whimsical and fantastical decoration: above the mirror is a moon surrounded by shooting stars of different sizes according to the time of day that candles would be lit and when the reflective qualities of the mirror and gilded decoration would be put to best effect.
DANIEL COTTIER (1838 – 1891)
Aesthetic Movement davenport, c.1870
for Cottier & Co. (maker)
ebonised wood, brass pulls, raised on castors, with inlaid tooled leather writing surface,
painted and gilt panels
31 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 23 1/4 inches 80 x 70 x 59 cm
The firm of Cottier & Co. was founded by the artist, designer, decorator and art dealer Daniel Cottier (1838-1891). Cottier had trained as a coach painter in Glasgow but by the 1860s was working as a glass designer in London where he heard lectures given by the critic John Ruskin and received drawing lessons from the artist Ford Madox Brown. Returning to Scotland he opened his own business in 1864, which would grow to become a highly successful international organisation with branches in London, New York, Sydney and Melbourne. A key exponent of the aesthetic movement, Cottier developed an original and highly distinctive style, employing delicately painted surface decoration often on gold or ebonised ground. His designs frequently drew on the prevailing Japanese style associated with the aesthetic movement but also on Egyptian and Greek sources.
Cottier was interested in all manner of interiors: glass, furniture, ceramic manufacture, and interior design itself. In the United States he is seen as a “harbinger of aestheticism… and a profound influence on American decoration”. In 1873 he opened a workshop in New York and his first major stained-glass commission in America was for Trinity Church in Boston (1878-79). He is generally credited with being the first to introduce the Aesthetic style to the US.
THOMAS GRAHAM (1840 – 1906)
Passion Flowers, c.1864
signed and titled on artist's label verso
oil on canvas
17 1/4 x 17 inches 43.8 x 43.2 cm
Graham visited Venice in 1864 and so it is likely this picture dates from that year or soon after. A Young Bohemian in the National Gallery of Scotland (Edinburgh), dated 1864, allows us to draw comparisons in their technique and the artist’s evident enjoyment in the decorative elements of his subjects and in particular their clothes. Our painting shows two young ladies on the Grand Tour. They are sitting in a gondola and visible just beyond the lady on the left is St Marks’s Campanile, Venice, and the silhouette of another gondola; a rising crescent moon is cursorily painted over the shoulder of the young lady on the right. Armed with the fripperies of fashionable young ladies of the day, Graham takes pleasure in painting their pearls, purse and fans. They are painted within a feigned tondo although the artist seems to have been uncertain on what format to settle on.
Thomas Graham was one of a talented group of painters that included Orchardson, Pettie, McTaggart, MacWhirter and Herdman. Graham was one of the youngest of this set. He came from Orkney to enrol in the Trustees Academy and, by age of 23, he had moved to London where he shared a house in Fitzroy Square with Orchardson and Pettie. His early work shows his interest in the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Caw describes his painting as “Delicate and refined in naturalism which informs the earlier work of Millais. The pictures he painted in the early sixties… are marked by a rare perception of beauty and by charming handling”. (Scottish Painting Past and Present, Bath, 1975, p.258)
SIR JOHN ROBERT STEELL rsa (1804 – 1892)
Marble bust of a young woman, 1856
signed, inscribed 'Sculpt. Edin.r' and dated 1856
height 25 1/4 inches 64 cm
Sir John Steell was the most eminent Scottish sculptor of his generation and is responsible for many monuments in Scotland and the UK, in addition to the work that was sent to India, New Zealand and the US. He was designated Sculptor in Ordinary in Scotland by Queen Victoria in 1838. In 1849 he introduced fine art bronze casting to Scotland, creating the Grove Foundry in Edinburgh, the first foundry in Scotland, the initial purpose of which was to cast the Duke of Wellington (Princes Street, Edinburgh). The press at the time dubbed it the Iron Duke in bronze by Steell.
While Steell is best known for his public sculptures, such as his world-famous one of Robert Burns, portraiture was also of great importance to him. Demand for his work was great. It also, usefully, extended his contacts within the elite and consolidated his patronage for other larger projects. He benefitted too from the Victorian fashion for the portrait bust. With Steell’s most expensive bust coming in at £150 they were a manageable expense. A plaster replica could be got for as little as two guineas.
Steell adhered to the main elements of classical sculpture: Flavian use of drapery (the inclusion of a shoulder and bare chest); a smooth, matte finish to the surface; and uninscribed eyes. Within this he would include contemporary elements such as the hair, and there was always a sense of the person, both in terms of literal likeness but also of inner character. The vast majority of Steell’s output was eminent men of the day. Female sitters number very few. We don’t, unfortunately, know who our sitter is. Although she clearly embodies classical beautywith softly draped cloth across her chest and carefully softened features, she is her own person with identifiable features. Especially striking is the ornate arrangement of her hair making her worthy of a 360-degree view.
ALEXANDER NASMYTH hrsa (1758 – 1840)
Falls of Clyde, c.1790
oil on canvas
18 3/4 x 25 1/4 inches 47.6 x 64 cm
Robert Riddell, List of References to Alexander Nasmyth (unpublished manuscript, 1791), in J. C. B. Cooksey, Alexander Nasmyth HRSA: A Man of the Scottish Renaissance (Scotland, 1991) Appendix B, pp.115-116
The same view by Alexander Nasmyth is in Kelvingrove as The Falls of Clyde, Acc. no.3051
Nasmyth’s vision of Scotland reaches far into the 20th century and has come, in many ways, to define what constitutes Scottish landscape painting. In addition to being a painter, Nasmyth was also a theatre designer, an architect and landscape designer, a scientist and engineer. Like many people in the 18th century, Nasmyth was enthusiastic about the benefits that technological developments could bring. He saw no conflict between technology and natural beauty in landscape painting.
The scene here, however, embodies the Romantic: two men and a dog survey the picturesque scene before them. A carefully placed building beside the waterfall leads our eye to the men and dogs by the riverbank.
The Falls of Clyde were a popular destination for travellers on Scottish tours. It is the collective name of four waterfalls on the River Clyde near New Lanark: they comprise the upper falls of Bonnington Linn, Corra Linn and Dundaff Linn, together with the lower falls of Stonebyres Linn. Many Romantic painters and poets, including Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott, were drawn to their natural splendour and Corra Linn was immortalised by William Wordsworth and J. M. W. Turner.
The Falls were painted many times by Nasmyth and it is recorded that by 1791, Nasmyth had undertaken three sets of Clyde waterfalls, each of 3 pictures. Robert Riddell, a contemporary writer, recorded that: “Mr. Nasmyth painted for Lady Miller the Three falls on Clyde viz: Stonebyres Linn, Corrhouse Linn, and Bonnington Lynn. He also painted the above falls of Clyde for Sir Alex Ramsay. He painted them also for the Duchess of Buccleuch.”
JAN VAN KESSELL the elder (1626 – 1679)
Exotic birds in flight and perched on branches in a mountainous landscape, 1677
signed and dated 1677
oil on canvas
16 x 26 inches 40.6 x 66 cm
Private collection, Kirkudbrightshire and thence by descent
Jan van Kessel was a keen observer and his animal studies were praised in his day for their meticulousness and precision. That same desire to collect and categorise the natural world, which had given impetus to the creation of the Kunstkammern and Wunderkammern in the late 16th and 17th century, inspired the artists of the day to achieve the same in painted form.
Jan van Kessel the Elder belonged to a dynasty of famous painters. His grandfather by marriage was Jan Brueghel the Elder and David Teniers the Younger was his uncle. He was a pupil of the history painter Simon de Vos, but was apparently also instructed by his uncle Jan Brueghel the Younger. Van Kessel joined the Antwerp guild of Saint Luke in 1645 and specialised in flower still lifes, meticulous studies of insects, and allegorical series representing, for example, the four elements. He also painted these wonderfully exotic arrangements of birds. The jewel like colours of their plumage emphasise the rarity and curiosity of the painting itself. Van Kessel has exaggerated the characteristics of the birds, giving them human qualities with a humorous note.