Thursday, 10 February 2011

Glasgow Boys

I managed to catch the BBC programme repeat of the Glasgow Boys presented by Muriel Gray recently.  I had seen the programme before but it was good to see their work again.  The programme was made when their work was appearing in the Kelvin Grove Art Gallery in Glasgow, and these are some brief notes I took during the programme.

William MacGregor had been the father of the movement, and his painting The Vegetable Stall, painted in 1884  reflects earlier French and Flemish painting.  It did originally have a figure on the right hand side but he was brave enough to paint over her which left him with just the vegetables, which for a painting of this size was unusual. His main genre was historic painting.

However, the movement was interested in painting outside and visited the nearby loch and the Rosneath Peninsula to do so.

Sir James Guthrie was influenced by Jules Bastian Lepage, for example, Rural Love, as one can see in the painting A Hind’s Daughter.

His painting of a Highland Funeral breaks away from the traditional composition and the colouring is sombre, but he is probably best known for his Goose Girl painted in 1883, which was a fairly revolutionary composition at the time.

Their attempts to be accepted by the Glasgow School of Art was problematic because of their patronizing attitude to their art.  They had turned their backs on the traditional highland landscape.  Guthrie began painting modern social life, including ladies playing tennis. Some of Glasgow Boys went to Paris, John Lavery of Irish descent was one, because of the difficulties of being accepted.  “Under the Cherry Tree”, shows the influence of Lepage in his work.  He also went to Tangiers and explored the Middle Eastern light.

                                Rural Love, 1882 Bastien-Lepage, Jules © Bridgeman Education.

I also think the painting by Sir Samuel Llewelyn, of an unknown date, is an interesting comparison. It must have been painted at about the same time, and has a similar lightness of touch.

                                Llewelyn, Sir Samuel Henry William (1858-1941)  © Bridgeman Education

                              Under the Cherry Tree, John Lavery 1884 © Bridgeman Education

The painting which was used to advertise the Exhibition was the joint effort by Edward Hornel and George Henry “The Druids Bringing in the Mistletoe”. The work introduced gold, as Klimt used it, and is an interesting collaboration. The composition and colours are striking and there is a mystical quality to it.

 The Druids - Bringing in the Mistletoe, 1890 (oil on canvas)

Arthur Melville, an excellent watercolourist was also enticed by the light of southern Spain and North Africa, capturing the elusive quality of heat and light in “A Byway in Granada”

                                      Arthur Melville, “A Byway in Granada” © Bridgeman Education

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