McIntosh Patrick, generally recognized as Scotland's foremost landscape
painter of the 20th century was born in Dundee in 1907. From an early
age he displayed a keen interest in art and was encouraged by his
architect father who was himself an able amateur watercolourist.
He enrolled at the
Glasgow School of Art in 1924 and studied painting under Maurice
Greiffenhagen. At this time Patrick continued his interest in etching
which was very popular in the 1920's and was to prove a source of income
for him during the Depression years.
By 1930 he had made
painting expeditions to France and Italy and had returned to oil
painting rather than making sketches for his etchings. Although he had
won prizes for portraiture at Glasgow his real love of nature and the
landscape began to shine and by the early 1930's he began one of his
best known large landscapes in oil, "The Three Sisters, Glencoe", which
was completed in 1934 The composition used in this painting was to
become a Patrick trademark over the years, the artist using a lane or
road to lead the viewer into the picture. While nothing new in itself
Patrick used this technique successfully in many of his oils in the
following five decades.
Interestingly at this
stage in his career he painted in the studio from sketches made on site,
something that he was to change after the war.
He continued refining his
technique and by 1936 had several paintings hung at the Royal Academy.
In 1940 he was called up for military service and became an officer in
the Camouflage Corps. He served in North Africa and Italy helping to
make life difficult for German reconnaissance aircraft whose job was to
photograph troop and tank numbers. Interestingly, and unbekown to
Patrick, was the fact that another artist who had attended the Glasgow
School of Art a few years after Patrick was also commissioned into the
Camouflage Corps and served in the Far East theatre. Alastair Maitland,
a Glaswegian who was to win several national awards for landscape
painting in the late 1930's and who remembered Patrick through his
reputation at Glasgow as a student, spent a part of the war in Burma
where he sketched and painted studies of the human side of war. I met
Alastair in 1989 in Sand Lake, Ontario where he was still painting and
he recalled Patrick's tremendous natural ability and enthusiasm.
After the war Patrick
returned to Dundee with his wife and family and began painting outdoors
rather than in the studio which he had upstairs in his house. I visited
his studio several times. It was a large converted bedroom facing south
with terrific views over the River Tay to the hills of Fife. Two large
studio easels dominated the right hand side of the studio and several
paintings waiting to be "edited" were propped around the walls.
Patrick's home was full of paintings in his later years, pieces that he
had collected over the decades, from 17th century Dutch still lives to
more contemporary landscapes.
By the 1950's he had
perfected his style and technique in outdoor landscape painting and
began recording his beloved Angus countryside on canvas, working in all
seasons and all weather conditions. His style was traditional and he
didn't have much time for "contemporary" interpretations of landscape.
"The Tay Bridge from My Studio Window", painted in 1947, is probably the
best known of Patrick's works and illustrates the detailed style which
he had finally decided upon as suiting his temperament best. He was
elected a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1957. His
reputation grew throughout the sixties and seventies and by the time I
met him in the early eighties he was a giant in the Scottish art world.
He had spent some time teaching during his later career and I was
privileged to take "advice" from the master on many occasions when he
was accompanied on his teaching classes by one of his most oustanding
pupils, Joe McIntyre of Dundee.
James McIntosh Patrick
was an exemplar in his life and work and imparted his knowledge freely.
He was without doubt the most able painter that Scotland has produced in
the 20th century and stands on equal terms with most of Europe's
best landscape painters of that era. He died in Dundee in 1998.
Some of his work
captured through the Web
[Note: Due to these being captured through the web the quality won't be
as good as the originals and the colours may well be lighter or darker
but at least you'll get an idea of his work.]
"Springtime in Eskdale"
is an extremely detailed landscape painting by the Scottish artist James
McIntosh Patrick. It depicts "The Crooks" in Eskdalemuir, Dumfriesshire,
Scotland, birthplace of the famous engineer Thomas Telford (1757-1834).
Patrick painted it in 1934 to mark the centenary of his death.
The painting shows people
visiting a cottage, a farmer ploughing a field and a river in the middle
ground. Light spreads evenly throughout the scene, except for a long
shadow in the foreground, suggesting that the artist looked down on the
landscape from on high.
Patrick loved to paint
out of doors, believing that his landscapes could encourage people to
appreciate nature: "I don't suppose there is much sentimentality about
my paintings, but I have a deep feeling that Nature is immensely
dignified when you are out of doors. I am struck by the dignity of
Read more of this review at The Liverpool Museum.