Art UK has updated its cookies policy. By using this website you are agreeing to the use of cookies. To find out more read our updated Use of Cookies policy and our updated Privacy policy.

Close

Travelling was a constant source of inspiration for David Michie RSA (1928-2015) throughout his life. Michie’s paintings were born as a response to the sights that attracted him and from observations captured rapidly in his many sketchbooks, which he referred to as “untidy visual diaries”. Born in the South of France, Michie’s early experiences of light, colour and landscape undeniably had an influence on his work. Travelling was a great nourishment for his artistic imagination, as the whole world was his inspiration. Using his intellect, curiosity and witty sense of humour, Michie shone a new light on the mundane, and with exuberant colours and thoughtfully constructed compositions, he lent significance to his subjects.

Artists featured in this Curation: David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
18 artworks
  • A prolific artist, Michie had many exhibitions throughout the UK, across Europe and further afield in the USA and East Asia. He exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy from 1954, becoming an Associate Member in 1964 and a full Academician in 1972.

    Anticoli Corrado with Mountain Snow 1954
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Gouache on paper
    H 42 x W 56 cm
    The Fleming Collection
    Anticoli Corrado with Mountain Snow
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

  • In 2016, the RSA collections department received a bequest of over twenty paintings, numerous sketchbooks and drawings, studio tools and equipment, photographs and archives belonging to David Michie and his mother Anne Redpath RSA (1895-1965). The following selected works span all periods of the artist’s life and cover a broad range of subject matter inspired by the artist’s observations throughout his travels. Preparatory studies for many of them can be found in his sketchbooks which are currently being catalogued by the collections team as part of the Michie Bequest research project.


  • Michie had an undeniable passion for performing arts and a fascination with street parades, circus, festivals and jazz bands. The jugglers in the street in the Beaubourg district of Paris provided the inspiration for a number of paintings by Michie. The RSA Michie Collection holds many drawings and sketches featuring Paris jugglers. A second version of this painting titled Jugglers at the Beaubourg II, 1975 - which is compositionally different and has a predominantly red background - is held in a private collection.

    The Jugglers 1972
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 46.3 x W 63.6 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    The Jugglers
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture


  • One of the related studies made in the Beaubourg district around the Pompidou Centre in Paris, c.1978. Untitled from a sketchbook, c.1978, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), pen and ink, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Michie_054_MICHIE_David_Alan_Redpath_Paris_jugglers_photographer_oystercatchers_insects_Leaf_17r_JPG
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • Michie travelled widely in Scotland. He visited Shetland on his own in 1959 to attend a Summer School and returned for a family holiday the following year, where he made sketches at Lerwick and Walls.

    When it came to inspiration for drawing and painting, the whole world was Michie’s playground. Perhaps he was as captivated by the crows of Shetland on a grey day as he was by a Hairy Woodpecker seen at a nature reserve in sunny California. His desire to see the extraordinary within the ordinary and his sharp eye and appetite for creating drove him to make spectacular works of art.

    Crow's Nest, Shetland 1961
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 50.5 x W 61 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Crow's Nest, Shetland
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

  • The diversity of nature was a major theme explored by David Michie in his art and is predominantly seen through studies of birds, plants and insects from his extensive travels. His sketchbooks are filled with recorded observations and delightful notations, some of which are scientific names for the species of birds or insects he had been observing and studying. There are also numerous ornithology and entomology books within his private library.
    Related studies in one of Michie’s sketchbooks indicate that these black-throated divers were sketched in Argyllshire in September 1986.

    Black-Throated Diver by a Shore c.1986
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 45.5 x W 63.5 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Black-Throated Diver by a Shore
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture


  • Untitled from a sketchbook, c.1986, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), pen and ink, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Michie_006_MICHIE_David_Alan_Redpath_SOSPEL_Sketchbook_Leaf_85r_jpg
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • Studies for The Cyclists were made in Majorca, where Michie holidayed with his wife in March 1997.
    The sketchbook in which a preparatory study for this work can be found also holds colourful drawings of Marrakech locals in their ethnic costumes.
    Michie travelled to Marrakech later in November of the same year.

    The Cyclists c.1997–1998
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 50.5 x W 60.8 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    The Cyclists
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

  • Fruit and vegetable markets were a constant appeal to Michie and a continuous theme in his work since the 1960s. He admired the creative displays and the careful arrangement and presentation of the produce by the stallholders. Observed at Aix-en-Provence market in 2000, this composition places a mundane character into an almost ecclesiastic stature, giving the impression that the figure is preaching a sermon. Michie visited Aix-en-Provence in October 1984, 1993 and 2000.


    Holding a box of Carrots c.2003, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), oil on canvas, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Picture1_jpg
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • “Whether appearing indoors or outdoors, theatre offers a glimpse of ourselves in a different guise…”
    Michie, D. (2014). A sketchbook.


  • David Michie was drawn to observing and analysing the more eccentric, lively and humorous sides of human behaviour; such as theatre, performance, and people at play. He perhaps inherited his sense of visual comedy from 1940s French and Italian cinema, which were some of the most important influences on Michie’s artistic career. He found inspiration in the magnificent works of Jacques Tati and Marcel Pagnol, and in films such as Les Enfants du Paradise and other masterpieces by Rossellini or Vittorio de Sica.

    Le Grand Ballet de Sengal appeared at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1968, at a performance of which Michie made the preparatory sketches for this work.

    Musician and Clown – Le grand ballet de Senegal 1968
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on hardboard panel
    H 35 x W 45.8 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Musician and Clown – Le grand ballet de Senegal
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

  • Accordion, Saxophone and Drum
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on board
    H 19 x W 19 cm
    Museums & Galleries Edinburgh – City of Edinburgh Council
    Accordion, Saxophone and Drum
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Museums & Galleries Edinburgh – City of Edinburgh Council

  • Growing up in an artistic household, Michie developed his unique visual language and pursued his own individual path from an early stage. He travelled to Lisbon in 1961 with his mother Anne Redpath. Both were attracted to the architecture, simple façades, and church interiors, and they created distinctive works from the same common sources. Michie was also especially captivated by the Lisbon fisherwomen carrying baskets of fish on their heads and made various sketches on the theme. He travelled to Portugal many times during the 60s and the 80s with his wife and daughter, and his friends and contemporaries Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston.

    Conversation in a Portuguese Village 1961–1967
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on hardboard panel
    H 50.8 x W 61.2 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Conversation in a Portuguese Village
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture


  • Untitled from a sketchbook (profile head and shoulders of woman with platter of fish on her head), c.1961-65, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), pastel, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    2016_075_MICHIE_David_Alan_Redpath_Terston_Sketchbook_Leaf_32r_Profile_head_and_shoulders_of_woman_w
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • Gypsies at Sintra, Portugal 1964
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on board
    H 85.2 x W 125 cm
    Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums
    Gypsies at Sintra, Portugal
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

  • During his family and professional life, Michie travelled extensively, particularly to France and throughout Europe. As his artistic vision and wit developed further throughout the years, he found inspiration in boats, and seaside and beach scenes.


    In an interview with filmmaker Sana Bilgrami he humbly states: “… I’ve inflicted my paintings on the world but I paint because I’ve had such endless entertainment from what I’ve found around me…”


    Frolic with its juxtapositions of form and colour, perfectly demonstrates Michie’s response to the world that enraptured him. Those aspects of his environment or human activity that brought him “endless entertainment” and joy.

    Frolic 1986
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on hardboard panel
    H 50.8 x W 61 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Frolic
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

  • Man and Dog and Pink Sails, Honfleur c.1980
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 69.5 x W 90 cm
    McLean Museum and Art Gallery – Inverclyde Council
    Man and Dog and Pink Sails, Honfleur
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: McLean Museum and Art Gallery – Inverclyde Council

  • Seaside Afternoon 1964
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 66 x W 101.6 cm
    National Galleries of Scotland
    Seaside Afternoon
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

  • Gardens, plants and blooms remained a passion of Michie’s throughout his career. His bold expressionist colour palettes and his handling of paint hint at the influence of Matisse, Raoul Dufy and the Fauves. This particular garden scene was observed in Provence, France around 1993.


    Convolvulus Hawkmoth in a Garden, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), oil on canvas, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    David_Michie_Convolvulus_Hawkmoth_in_a_Garden_jpg
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • Dark Garden with a Yellow Border
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 91.5 x W 127 cm
    Museums & Galleries Edinburgh – City of Edinburgh Council
    Dark Garden with a Yellow Border
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Museums & Galleries Edinburgh – City of Edinburgh Council

  • Spending his early childhood on the bright picturesque French Riviera perhaps helped shape Michie’s love of nature and his perspective on the world. As a result, many of his subjects possess Mediterranean characteristics.


    Sunflowers and Mistral was painted after a holiday in Maillane near Avignon, in 2002.

    Sunflowers and Mistral 2002
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 71 x W 102 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Sunflowers and Mistral
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture


  • Untitled from a sketchbook, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), pen and ink, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Michie_064_MICHIE_David_Alan_Redpath_SUNFLOWERS_SAN_FRANCISCO_BAY_BRIDGE_Leaf_1r_JPG
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • According to the artist, a new direction in painting came to him by chance on one significant summer day during a visit to his friends John Houston and Elizabeth Blackadder’s garden. He was enchanted by the vigorous shapes and colours that surrounded him. This indicative and influential moment became a turning point in his career as he found the awe-inspiring sight quite a contrast to the compositions he was working on at the time, which were rather severe and simple in design. This specific event inspired many more plant and garden paintings.


    Convolvulus Hawkmoth at a Flower, 1995, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), oil on canvas, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    David_Michie_Convonvulus_Hawkmoth_at_a_Flower_jpg
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • “The Shapes and colours of plants and flowers have infinite variety. There are no straight lines in nature and setting organic shapes against the geometry of man-made straight lines and curves one finds in a garden, offered new suggestions for compositions”
    Michie, D. (2014). A sketchbook.


  • Pink Garden (The Garden of Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston) c.1983
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 132 x W 152 cm
    The Fleming Collection
    Pink Garden (The Garden of Elizabeth Blackadder and John Houston)
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

  • Observations for this work were painted after the artist’s first visit to Australia via Hong Kong (November 1980 to January 1981). He was accompanied by his wife Eileen and the pair visited Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Heron Island and Bangkok. Michie’s power of observation and sense of humour shine through in works such as this one.

    At a Hong Kong Dinner Party 1981
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on hardboard panel
    H 38.4 x W 51 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    At a Hong Kong Dinner Party
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

  • Michie was appointed for three months as the visiting professor to the department of Fine Art, University of Belgrade, in 1979. Closed off from the language, he was captivated by colours and sights, especially the detailed design and patterns of the costumes which were shown in fine ethnographic museums, but also worn by regular people in the streets and in the fields. This work is one of five etchings inspired by his stay in Belgrade.


    The Serbian Woman, c.1982, David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015), etching and aquatint, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    2016_069_MICHIE_David_Alan_Redpath_The_Serbian_Woman_Copy_JPG
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture. Photo credit: RSA Collections

  • In the course of his life, Michie travelled several times to the USA, including in 1992 on a three month appointment to the Art Studio Department of the University of California. Provoked by the sights, the landscape and the variety of unfamiliar birds, he made numerous sketches and drawings while there.
    This work was painted in 2002, following a trip to the USA in 1998 to visit his daughter Lindsey.

    Virginian Spring, Dogwood and Judas Trees 1998
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 101.2 x W 101.2 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Virginian Spring, Dogwood and Judas Trees
    © Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture / Bridgeman Images . Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

  • Black Girls Walking in a Sunny Shower, Washington 1980
    David Alan Redpath Michie (1928–2015)
    Oil on canvas
    H 91.4 x W 91.4 cm
    Perth & Kinross Council
    Black Girls Walking in a Sunny Shower, Washington
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Perth & Kinross Council

  • “When travelling, I was prepared for the added provocation of unexpected sights. There are many fine travel writers. Jan Morris is one who has preferred to be described as a writer who travels. Perhaps I can call myself a painter who travelled.”

    Michie, D. (2014). A sketchbook.