Sunday, 21 November 2010

Pioneering artist paints allotments..........

Ok it was over a century ago but the artist collectively know as the Glasgow Boys started out painting realistic images of the things round about them and did so in a very 'natural' way.  I first came across their work by chance when walking in Galloway as a student 40 years ago. I was staying in the 'Artist Town' of Kirkcudbright and came across a small exhibition of one of the Glasgow Boys, E.A. Hornel, whose work was preserved in his old studio by a local trust. Anyone who had read Dorothy L Sayers book 'Five Red Herrings' was aware of the artist colony but it was hardly seen to be of great significance. Although the studio 'Broughton House' had a sleepy backwater charm of a well kept secret some of the painting there were amazingly avant garde even in the 1970's. This was particularly true of the latter 'symbolist' ones that Hornel and his friend Henry painted.

I went back to Galloway on a frequent basis and saw the amazing growth of the Artist's town, The National Trust for Scotland took over Broughton House and major exhibitions were held . Twenty odd years ago the Glasgow Boys really got on the map when Roger Billercliffe  published his book on the movement.

Why is this relevant today? Last week I was a way working in London (and sadly missing the Southport Area Committee) when I came across a major exhibition of the Glasgow Boys at the Royal Academy on Piccadilly. Their video tells you more about it:

 Royal Academy of Arts on Vimeo.

Moving on from the early open air, naturalist painting Hornel and some of the others developed a style that put them at the forefront of European Art. Possibly the most famous painting being a joint collaboration between Hornel and Henry: The Druids bringing the Mistletoe. It is along way from painting the town allotments!


  1. The allotments painting reminds me of "The Gleaners" by Millet (1857).

  2. Bang on. Millet was a great influence on the Boys. His works were exhibited in Glasgow in the 1880's and his unsentimental pictures of country folk doing everyday things were the template for all the Scottish pictures of Kale yard and 'tattie howkers'


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