JOHN MILNE DONALD.
Born, 1819; died, 1866.
Although undistinguished by Academic honours, this
artist had very considerable influence in fostering the art of
landscape-painting, more especially in the west of Scotland. Like
Docharty, he wrought almost exclusively in oil, and his pictures are
characterised by great truth to nature, fine colour, and beauty of
execution. A keen observer, he probably reverenced nature too deeply to
use any liberties, and hence his works may be said to yield that amount
of pleasure which accords with the appreciation of nature possessed by
the spectator. His best works are those of a smaller size; he saw too
keenly to paint to be seen at a distance, and he saw too wisely to paint
anything but what conveyed the impression without the slavish following
of nature. Ideality and impressionism formed no part of his creed, and
for him did not exist. He selected from but never rejected nature, and
what he selected he rendered faithfully and lovingly. To take Donald at
his best, as an executant he is unapproached by any of his predecessors
and by few of his successors.
brought early in his youth from Nairn to Glasgow, where he gained some
little knowledge of art, and after his twenty- first year spent about
four years in London, finally settling in Glasgow, painting panels for
wall decorations and contributing to local exhibitions. His works, like
those of many other artists, were not appreciated till after his death,
and although he had to be satisfied with a comparatively small
remuneration for his work, his pictures are now eagerly sought after,
more especially by local collectors. He was a frequent contributor to
the Edinburgh and Glasgow exhibitions up till his death, which occurred
after his mind had given way.