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The Glasgow Boys and Girls were a group of radical young artists, most of whom came from Glasgow or thereabouts, who rebelled against the jaded Victorian passion for highland scenes and story-telling pictures. They sprang to prominence in the 1880s as documentary painters of rural life in all its harsh reality. This Curation, which draws largely from work in the Fleming Collection as well as public collections, is a forerunner of an actual exhibition to be staged at the Granary Gallery, Berwick-upon-Tweed later in the summer. Unless otherwise stated all works are courtesy of the Fleming Collection, a charity which promotes Scottish art and creativity through loans from its outstanding collection of Scottish art, cultural diplomacy and education.
21 artworks

Introduction

Comprising around twenty artists, the Glasgow Boys and Girls coalesced through a network of artistic colonies in France and Scotland. They were fed by a shared response to international trends, especially cutting-edge French naturalist painting, the impact of Japanese graphic design and the example of James McNeil Whistler, who took them under his wing.

By the 1890s, the Scots were hailed across Europe and America as artists who looked at life with an unflinching gaze that betokened the dawn of the modern world.

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Pas mèche (Nothing Doing)
Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848–1884)

Bastien-Lepage was the artistic god of the 1880s Glasgow School of painters. He grew up in the village of Damvillers in the Meuse district. Encouraged by his artist father, he gained a classical training at art in Paris, but his heart remained in Damvillers, where he painted real people doing real tasks with a photographic clarity that highlighted their predicament, establishing him as leader of the emerging Naturalists school. In Pas mèche (Nothing Doing) the out-of-work boy stares back impassively. Bastien-Lepage’s rise was meteoric and his work was readily seen in London and Glasgow. He died aged 36 just as his Scottish followers were taking up his cause.

Pas mèche (Nothing Doing) 1882
Jules Bastien-Lepage (1848–1884)
National Galleries of Scotland

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Walton_The_Herd_Boy_jpg
Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland. Purchased with the assistance of the Art Fund 2007.

Edward Arthur Walton (1860–1922)

Born into an artistic Glaswegian dynasty Walton was trained in Germany and Glasgow. His close friendship with like-minded artists, Guthrie and Crawhall, placed him at the heart of the group of young Scots inspired by the documentary French painter, Jules Bastien-Lepage, who depicted the unadorned realities of rural life.

Much of their breakthrough work was inspired by stays at the artists’ colony, Cockburnspath in Berwickshire. Here, Walton hit new levels of confidence as seen in his dazzling watercolour, The Herd Boy, a familiar motif of the Naturalist painters. His treatment of colour and composition references both contemporary French painting and Japanese graphic design.


Edward Arthur Walton, The Herd Boy, 1886, watercolour and gouache on paper

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Fieldworkers
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Flora Macdonald Reid (1861–1938)

Reid trained at Edinburgh School of Art and received tuition from her older brother, John Robertson Reid, who painted scenes of rural life, but lacking the documentary French edge, which is present in his sister’s Fieldworkers, painted aged 22. One of the finest Glasgow School paintings, it dates from the time when the Glasgow ‘Boys’ were also establishing their French Realist credentials. The painting was exhibited at prestigious public exhibitions in London and Reid went on to have an international exhibiting career and commercial success. She was instrumental in setting up the Society of Women Artists providing professional accreditation for women.

Fieldworkers
Flora Macdonald Reid (1860–c.1940)
The Fleming Collection

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The Bridge, Crowland
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Sir James Guthrie (1859–1930)

Born in Greenock, a son of the manse, Guthrie had no formal training, but learnt his craft on extended painting expeditions into the Scottish and English countryside with his close friends, E. A. Walton and Joseph Crawhall. Their god was the French painter, Jules Bastien-Lepage. Guthrie’s square-headed brush strokes, realist’s eye and sunlit tones in this deadpan scene of a Lincolnshire village reveal his debt to the artist, whose work was shown in 1882 in London. A note on the back of the painting states that Crawhall painted the dog.

The Bridge, Crowland c.1882
James Guthrie (1859–1930)
The Fleming Collection

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A Hind's Daughter
Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

In May 1883, Guthrie and Walton discovered the village of Cockburnspath in Berwickshire, where Guthrie was to live for over two years immersing himself in village life. The girl in the painting is the daughter of a skilled farm worker, known as a hind. Her direct stare was inspired by Bastien-Lepage’s urchin in Pas Mèche. The cabbage patch, or kailyard, became an iconic subject for the Glasgow School. Guthrie’s strength of character, drive and talent established him as the leader of the group, which flocked to Cockburnspath in the summer months filling every cottage with an artist lodger.

A Hind's Daughter 1883
James Guthrie (1859–1930)
National Galleries of Scotland

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Henry_In_a_Cottar_s_Garden_jpg
Photo credit: The National Trust for Scotland, Broughton House & Garden

George Henry (1858–1943)

Born in Ayrshire, Henry trained part-time at Glasgow School of Art, but his most formative experiences were joining Guthrie, Walton and Crawhall on their extended painting expeditions. Guthrie’s influence, which freed Henry from the constraints of his art school training, came to the fore at Cockburnspath where A Cottar’s Garden was painted.

Depicting an identical subject to Guthrie’s Hind’s Daughter, Henry’s impassive eye achieves the aim of documentary painters to depict ‘a page torn from life’.


George Henry, A Cottars Garden, 1885, watercolour

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Back Wynd, Ceres
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Edward Arthur Walton (1860–1922)

Walton’s depiction of the bustling fishing village, Ceres, in Fife reveals his debt to the French Barbizon painters, such as Corot and Daubigny, who also inspired the creation of artists’ colonies, based in the eponymous village in the Forest of Fontainebleau. Creativity was in Walton’s genes. His siblings numbered his designer brother, George, a collaborator with Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and his sisters, Constance, Helen and Hannah, who are now recognised as prominent figures in the Glasgow Girls group for their contribution to art and design.

Back Wynd, Ceres
Edward Arthur Walton (1860–1922)
The Fleming Collection

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Under the Cherry Tree
Photo credit: National Museums Northern Ireland

Sir John Lavery (1856–1941)

The orphan of a Belfast publican, Lavery’s early life was filled with hair raising drama until finding his feet in Glasgow where he attended art school. By 1881, he was in Paris discovering plein air (outdoors) painting, the French Realists and the English painter, William Stott of Oldham, whose rustic naturalism had been acclaimed at the Paris Salon. His example led Lavery to the artists’ colony at Grez-sur-Loing where he hit his stride with a group of remarkable paintings of the riverbank and ancient bridge.

Under the Cherry Tree 1884
John Lavery (1856–1941)
National Museums Northern Ireland

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Early Autumn, Grez
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Alexander Roche (1861–1921)

Born in Glasgow, Roche studied architecture at Glasgow School of Art before switching to painting. Further study took place in Paris, where he befriended John Lavery and others. Recalling their time talking art in cafés, he wrote ‘the favourite topics were plein air and Bastien-Lepage.’ Roche joined Lavery at Grez-sur-Loing where he painted Early Autumn, Grez, a sylvan evocation of the artists’ colony which owed more to Impressionism and the art of Pissarro and Monet, than to the French Realists.

Early Autumn, Grez
Alexander Ignatius Roche (1861–1921)
The Fleming Collection

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Near St Andrews
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

William York MacGregor (1855–1923)

The son of a ship owner, MacGregor studied at Glasgow and the Slade School in London. Through his schoolboy friendship with James Paterson he met the other, mainly younger and poorer, Glasgow Boys. For a time he hosted life classes for the group in his well-appointed Glasgow studio. It was on an early visit to St Andrews with Paterson that he ‘began to reconsider his relationship with nature’ painting ‘effects rather than facts’, as displayed in Near St Andrews. From 1885, Macgregor distanced himself from the Group, doubtful of its artistic direction as well as being plagued by ill health.

Near St Andrews
William York MacGregor (1855–1923)
The Fleming Collection

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Melville_Cairo_Street_jpg
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Arthur Melville (1855–1904)

The son of a coachman, Arthur Melville was brought up in East Lothian and attended art school in Edinburgh. A precocious talent, he was the first of his generation to paint (in 1877) the iconic image of a labourer in a kailyard and the first to discover Grez-sur-Loing, where he painted limpid scenes of everyday life. As such Melville was a transmitter of French cutting-edge realism to his Scottish contemporaries.

Melville joined the Boys at Guthrie’s artists’ colony at Cockburnspath, fresh from an adventurous expedition to the Middle East which resulted in a series of finished watercolours, including A Cairo Street.


Arthur Melville, A Cairo Street, 1883, watercolour on paper

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the_white_drake_1_jpg
Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

Joseph Crawhall (1861–1913)

Born in Morpeth, Northumberland into an artistic family, Crawhall was exhibiting in public exhibitions in Newcastle by the age of 18, at which point he met E. A. Walton and James Guthrie. As a trio they took their first steps to becoming modern artists with Crawhall, encouraged by the example of Arthur Melville, increasingly turning to watercolour to achieve his vision of rustic naturalism.

The nobility and character of The White Drake reveals his empathy for the animal kingdom; while its design and fluency also reveals his debt to Japanese woodblock prints and Chinese wash paintings.


Joseph Crawhall, The White Drake, c.1895, gouache on linen

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Crawhall_The_Bull_Ring_jpg
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Joseph Crawhall (1861–1913)

A great lover of animals, Crawhall was simultaneously fascinated and repelled by the spectacle of the Spanish bullfight which he witnessed at Algeciras in 1892 while journeying back to the UK from Tangier.

While delighting in capturing the movement of light and colour, he depicts the dark mass of the bull dominating the centre of the composition, with the horse, the victim, struggling for survival. Crawhall’s dazzling talent led Whistler to declare: ‘I believe Crawhall to have been the truest artist of the Glasgow men…’, while Glaswegian millionaires queued up to acquire his work.


Joseph Crawhall, The Bull Ring, Algeciras / Bullfight, Algeciras, 1891, watercolour on paper

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Edinburgh from Craigleith Quarry
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

James Paterson (1854–1932)

Born in Glasgow into a prosperous family, Paterson persuaded his father to underwrite four years study in Paris. Recalling the drudgery and disorganisation of the studio system, he admitted that ‘a man gifted with real artistic capacity…[learns] much in the routine work of an atelier.’ Paterson absorbed the lesson of tonal painting from the French; his ability to convey depth through light as in Edinburgh from Craigleath Quarry.

Edinburgh from Craigleith Quarry
James Paterson (1854–1932)
The Fleming Collection

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View of Corrie on Arran
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

James Nairn (1859–1904)

Born in Lenzie, near Glasgow, Nairn trained as an architect before enrolling at the Glasgow School of Art. He is best known for a series of rural scenes painted at Corrie on the Isle of Arran. He was also involved in designing murals with fellow Glasgow Boys for public buildings in Glasgow to mark the 1888 International Exhibition. The following year, he emigrated to New Zealand where he played a major role in developing arts education.

View of Corrie on Arran
James McLachlan Nairn (1859–1904)
The Fleming Collection

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The Blue Hungarians
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Sir John Lavery (1856–1941)

Lavery spent the summer of 1888 painting the crowds, pavilions and bandstands at the Glasgow International Exhibition, following the dictum of his hero, James McNeil Whistler (whom he had met the year before), that artists can find beauty where the untrained eye does not. He also adopted Whistler’s ability to mass the composition and touch in details with a sable brush in what Lavery termed ‘the spontaneity of attack’. Whistler encouraged a move from French naturalism towards a more decorative treatment of urban life. Lavery stated that ‘we at Glasgow’ considered him to be ‘the greatest artist of the day.’

The Blue Hungarians
John Lavery (1856–1941)
The Fleming Collection

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In Camp
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

William Kennedy (1859–1918)

Brought up by his master-baker brother in Paisley, Kennedy trained in Glasgow, Paisley and Paris, where he was taught by the Glasgow Boys’ hero, Jules Bastien-Lepage. A spell at the artists’ colony of Grez-sur-Loing with Alexander Roche and John Lavery followed. Back in Scotland, Kennedy took a studio at Cambuskenneth, near Stirling, which led to his series of realist observations of the daily life of soldiers from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, training in the City’s Kings Park.

In Camp
William J. Kennedy (1859–1918)
The Fleming Collection

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Sand Dunes, Tangier
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Alexander Mann (1853–1908)

Born in Glasgow into a prosperous merchant family, Mann was trained in his home city and in Paris where he lived on and off for fifteen years, travelling to and fro to Scotland. Technically accomplished, he had a chameleon quality as an artist, producing ambitious works of social realism inspired by Guthrie and Bastien- Lepage, but equally adept at light drenched landscapes, similar to Lavery’s, who was with him in Tangier when Sand Dunes was painted. Of independent means and addicted to travel, he gradually drifted apart from the Group.

Sand Dunes, Tangier
Alexander Mann (1853–1908)
The Fleming Collection

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Children at Play
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864–1933)

Although Australian born, Hornel was raised in Kirkcudbright in south-west Scotland. Fresh from art school in Edinburgh and Antwerp, he met George Henry, who introduced him to the Glasgow painters. Documentary scenes of rural life influenced by Guthrie and Walton were the result. By 1890, Hornel, often in collaboration with Henry, had become drawn to the symbolism of religious and Celtic motifs. His technique, influenced by the superstar French painter, Adolphe Monticelli (now largely forgotten), favoured thick ‘impasto’ paint and rich colour that emphasised pattern and texture. Children at Play, depicting madcap children revelling in the joys of nature, epitomises this new approach.

Children at Play
Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864–1933)
The Fleming Collection

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Geisha Girls
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

The opening up of Japan to the western world in 1858 had had a profound influence on avant-garde European painting, the Glasgow school included. Out of admiration for Japanese art, Hornel and his friend, George Henry, travelled there in 1893, staying for 13 months, working in an around Tokyo. The trip was sponsored by Glasgow dealer, Alexander Reid, and his client, William Burrell. Alas, Henry’s work was ruined on the journey home, but Hornel staged a sell-out show with Reid of his richly coloured and textured pictorial record of Japanese life.

Geisha Girls
Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864–1933)
The Fleming Collection

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A Galloway Landscape
Photo credit: Glasgow Museums

George Henry (1858–1943)

The close bond between Henry and Hornel led them to reject the documentary realism of their earlier work and to embrace a more allegorical approach to rural subjects. A Galloway Landscape represents a form of magic realism, an imagined landscape which summons up the spirit of Galloway’s gently rolling hills, dotted with distinctive black and white cattle, in south west Scotland. Formally, the painting’s flattened perspective and sinuous rhythms owe a debt to the great Japanese print designers whose work was taking Europe by storm. The painting has acquired iconic status in the canon of Scottish art.

A Galloway Landscape 1889
George Henry (1858–1943)
Glasgow Museums

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Edward Atkinson Hornel
Photo credit: National Trust for Scotland, Broughton House & Garden

Bessie MacNicol (1869–1904)

Born in Glasgow into a cultivated family, MacNicol was the finest woman painter to study under the legendary director of the Glasgow School of Art, Fra Newbery, who supported men and women students equally. At his encouragement she went on to study in Paris, although she kicked against the repressive teaching. Back in Glasgow, her circle included many of the Glasgow Boys. In 1896, she spent time with Hornel in Kirkcudbright. Her powerful portrait, richly coloured and textured, against the backdrop of his Japanese paintings, pays homage to his influence, yet expresses MacNicol’s own authority as a painter. MacNicol died aged 39 of pre-natal complications, mourned by the Scottish art establishment.

Edward Atkinson Hornel
Bessie MacNicol (1869–1904)
National Trust for Scotland, Broughton House & Garden

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Walton_Daydream_jpg
© the artist's estate, Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Constance Walton (1865–1960), RSW

Walton was part of the Glasgow artistic dynasty which included her brother, E. A. Walton. She and her sisters, Hannah and Helen, were part of the group known as the Glasgow Girls, who were rediscovered in the 1988 exhibition of the same name at the Glasgow School of Art.

Trained in Paris, Walton, like her brother, was a talented watercolourist, who was influenced by the Scottish masters, Melville and Crawhall. Her figure studies are relatively rare as following her marriage in 1896 she decided to concentrate on flower studies, a curbing of one’s talent which faced countless women artists of the period.


Constance Walton, Day Dreams, c.1895, watercolour

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Cameron_Apple_Blossom_and_Bees_JPG
© Courtesy the estate of the artist, Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Katherine Cameron (1874–1965), RWS, RE, FRSA

Born in Glasgow into an artistic family, Cameron trained at Glasgow School of Art, under the visionary director, Fra Newbery, she later studied in Paris. A skilled watercolourist, she excelled at close up studies of plant life. Her fascination with bees ‘in their hairiness, blended colour and heavy flight’ drew one critic to compare her to Japanese artists.

Her work, which included book illustration and etching, received fresh recognition in the 1988 Glasgow Girls exhibition at the Glasgow School of Art. Her brother was the renowned landscape painter D. Y. Cameron.


Katherine Cameron, Apple Blossom and Bees, c.1900, pencil and watercolour on paper

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Henry_Girl_Reading_jpg
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

George Henry (1858–1943)

The French-inspired realist paintings of rural life facilitated the art of portraiture and by the late 1880s a number of the Glasgow painters including Henry, Guthrie and Lavery pursued careers as fashionable portrait painters in London.

Henry’s Girl Reading, dated 1896, fluently drawn in pastel, coincided with a vogue for ‘Fair Women’ exhibitions, celebrating the fin de siècle cult of beauty, put on by leading art dealers and art institutes in Glasgow and London.


George Henry, Girl Reading, 1896, pastel on paper

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A Newhaven Fishwife
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Alexander Roche (1861–1921)

Roche’s romantic character, which got him into a number of amorous scrapes, was attributed to his father being French and his mother hailing from the Scottish Borders. He travelled frequently to Europe and North Africa in the 1890s, once with Lavery on a journey to visit an erstwhile girlfriend in Switzerland (it ended badly). Like Lavery, Roche extended his range into portraiture, which latterly dominated his practice. A New Haven Fishwife is a rare example of a Glasgow Boy literally entering the territory of the plein air Newlyn school in Cornwall, which shared aspirations with the Glasgow Boys.

A Newhaven Fishwife
Alexander Ignatius Roche (1861–1921)
The Fleming Collection

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Colour Sketch, Saint Agnes
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

David Gauld (1865–1936)

Gauld studied part-time at Glasgow School of Art before making his name first as an illustrator, then as a stained-glass designer. Adept at working between disciplines his sketch, St Agnes, relates to a finished painting (now in the collection of the Scottish National Galleries) and to windows for St Andrew’s church in Buenos Aires. His symbolist tendencies reflect the influence of George Henry and Edward Hornel. In turn, Gauld’s vertical, patterned composition as seen in St Agnes influenced his close friend Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Gould went on to exhibit with the Viennese Secessionists. His later career focussed on landscapes.

Colour Sketch, Saint Agnes
David Gauld (1867–1936)
The Fleming Collection

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Winter Sunshine, Moniaive
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

James Paterson (1854–1932)

Paterson first visited Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, in 1879, settling there after marrying in 1884. Here he painted his finest works and his local landscapes became a regular feature of the Glasgow School exhibitions of the 1880s and 1890s. Winter Sunshine has significance beyond Glasgow as the tonal values, loose technique and the artist’s emotional response to the scene compares to the work of distant Australian contemporaries such as Tom Roberts, who was trained in Europe, and his friend, Arthur Streeton. The impact of French realism on art was an international phenomenon.

Winter Sunshine, Moniaive
James Paterson (1854–1932)
The Fleming Collection

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The Highland Glen
Photo credit: The Fleming Collection

Arthur Melville (1855–1904)

The fruits of Melville’s journey to the Middle East revealed his brilliance as a watercolourist and he soon abandoned oil painting. His fluid technique, sometimes described as ‘blottesque’, and daring artistic intelligence took his landscapes to the edge of abstraction, as the proto-modern Highland Landscape reveals. Melville’s fearless innovation sums up the bold character and achievements of the Glasgow Boys and Girls who learnt to look at life with an unflinching gaze that betokened the dawn of the modern world.

The Highland Glen c.1893
Arthur Melville (1855–1904)
The Fleming Collection