Scottish Art History : The Glasgow Boys
The Glasgow Boys
During the nineteenth century, thanks to the Industrial Revolution, the city of Glasgow in the south-west of Scotland was booming. This brought great benefits to its people but also led to squalid living conditions in an urban centre which was expanding at a pace faster than any other city in Scotland. By the 1880s, Glasgow was one of the most important cities in the British Empire with its shipbuilding and trade.
From this urban sprawl, developed an artists' collective, known as the Glasgow Boys, whose art looked beyond the city to the rural landscape of Scotland, from where they drew inspiration. Influenced by French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, the Glasgow Boys expanded and developed the genre and produced an incredible body of work which proves a popular draw for art lovers at Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum.
Who Were The Glasgow Boys?
Well, behind the rather austere Victorian photographs you see here, were some of Scotland's most innovative artists of the late nineteenth century. There were around 20 artists associated with the Glasgow Boys, including those pictured.
Thomas Millie Dow (1848-1919)
Painting in oils, watercolours and pastels, Thomas Millie Dow produced an interesting range of work which included landscapes and portraits. He studied in Paris before moving to Glasgow in 1880 at which point he became associated with the Glasgow Boys. He spent some time in the United States and travelled in Europe, particularly in Switzerland and Germany. A celebrated artist in his own lifetime, his work remains popular today.
William York MacGregor (1855 - 1923)
A graduate of the prestigious Glasgow School of Art, landscape artist William York MacGregor is often referred to as the 'father' of the Glasgow Boys. His studio in Glasgow became the meeting place for many of the members of the group.
James Paterson (1854-1932)
Paterson trained at the Glasgow School of Art and was the first of the Glasgow Boys to study in France. As well as being an accomplished painter, Paterson was also something of a photographer and some of the images he captured formed the basis for his paintings, including a portrait of his wife, Eliza. Paterson also painted landscapes and it is for this that he is now best known.
James Guthrie (1859-1930)
Although initially best known as a portrait painter. James Guthrie is now celebrated for capturing scenes of Scottish life in rural locations. One of his best known pieces is 'A Funeral Service In The Highlands', a masterpiece capturing an everyday event. He was also known for portraiture and for his work in pastels.
John Lavery (1856-1941)
Irishman John Lavery studies art in London and Paris before becoming a part of the group known as the Glasgow Boys. He first gained prominence as a portrait painter and also painted scenes of contemporary life. He moved to London in 1918 and was knighted for his services to art.
When the Glasgow Boys staged their first joint exhibition in 1885 in Glasgow, the art establishment buzzed with excitement at the bold use of colour and the diverse subject matter capturing the world beyond the city streets. Their paintings still create a great deal of interest and exhibitions of their work are shown around the world. Other members of this group include Joseph Crawhall, George Henry, E.A Walton, Alexander Roche, Arthur Melville and James Nairn.
St Ives Harbour
Thomas Millie Dow moved with his family from Glasgow to St Ives, Cornwall in 1894. Dow painted scenes from the area surrounding his new home frequently. He used pastels and oils to paint various locations and one which he returned to over and over again, was the harbour at St Ives.
Here, the harbour is shown on a bright and sunny day in an idyllic scene with boats bobbing on the water. Dow also painted the harbour at night..
Crail is a pretty little village in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. This image captures a scene from everyday life. The Glasgow Boys often sought out subjects from real life to provide the focus for their work.
The painting housed in the Smith Art Gallery and Museum in Stirling, Central Scotland.
Although a prolific amateur photographer, James Paterson believed that drawing was a superior method of recording impressions of a person or place. He moved to Edinburgh in 1905 and began to paint different aspects of the city such as this view of the castle.
Portrait of Frederick C Gardiner
James Guthrie was an accomplished painter of portraits and this one depicts his cousin, Frederick Gardiner who was one of the founders of a thriving shipping company in the late 1800s. During the late nineteenth century, the shipping industry was thriving in Glasgow and many wealthy businessmen sought out artists like Guthrie to immortalise them in portraits.
Boating on the Thames
After settling in London in 1918, John Lavery began to paint images of everyday events, such as this rather idyllic scene of people boating on the River Thames on a warm, sunny day,
This particular painting is oil on canvas.