Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The Scottish School of Painting
Chapter VIII. Wilkie’s Contemporaries

Wilkie, like Raeburn, had a following, strongly influenced by his methods, and fired by his success; but, though head and shoulders above the rest, he did not stand so absolutely alone as did the portrait-painter. The movement associated with Wilkie had been silently at work since David Allan gave the initiative. Consequently we find in the catalogues of the Associated Artists that various young painters were exhibiting subjects more or less of the genre type, or suggested by the poems of Burns, Falconer, Beattie, Hector Macneil, and others, then favourites with the Scottish public. These painters and their works are mostly forgotten, but a certain tradition lingers about the humorous pieces of Alexander Carse. In Lord Young’s collection are two good examples. One shows three topers seated about a punch-bowl drinking a toast, in which a woman standing beyond joins; in the other, a youth in Scotch bonnet and plaid, with bundle and stick in hand, takes leave of his sweetheart. Both are dark in tone and heavy in touch, but there is a hint of more lightsome handling in the faces of lad and girl in the last-named canvas.

Two names of distinction appear amongst the contemporaries of Wilkie—both slightly older than he was—

William Allan and Andrew Geddes. The former attained to the greater honours, and in his lifetime was generally regarded as the greater painter, but to-day the order must be reversed. Both were men of strong character, and the work of either has an individuality which gives it a place apart in the story of Scottish art. Though associated with Wilkie in many ways, they cannot be called followers in the sense which applies to Alexander Fraser, John Burnet, and W. H. Lizars. In technique, it is true, Allan shows to a considerable extent the influence of his younger fellow student, but technique was never a strong point in his work. Geddes, after his early venture into the field of genre painting, remains unaffected by the methods of his more famous friend and compatriot.

The life of William Allan had in it an element of the adventurous and romantic, which was partly accountable for the position he held in the estimation of his contemporaries. Three years Wilkie’s senior, and his fellow student under John Graham, with the old instinct of the Scot he early set out to find his fortune in a larger field. Not meeting with the expected success in London, he resolved to try “foreign parts,” and—strange choice for the year of grace 1805—selected St. Petersburg as his goal. Driven into Memel by stress of weather, the young artist soon found himself almost penniless on Prussian soil. Nothing daunted, after having replenished his exchequer by painting a few portraits at the Baltic seaport, he continued his journey overland, passing on his way portions of the Russian army on their march to Austerlitz. Arrived at his destination, the good fairy appeared in the person of his countryman, Sir Alexander Crichton, then physician to the Imperial family. After executing a few portrait commissions, obtained through Sir Alexander’s influence, Allan, who had other ambitions, spent some years in exploring the then almost unknown tracts of southeastern Russia. He even passed beyond its borders, and collected rich store of sketches and properties from the outlying provinces of Turkey and the semi-fabulous regions of Circassia and the Caucasus. In these days when a Cook’s tourist can do all this without soiling his shoes, and when both French and British artists have exploited countries even more remote, the travels of the future President may seem a small matter, but in the opening years of the nineteenth century it was otherwise. The Russia of those days was as difficult to get away from as to enter, and when—about 1812—he was desirous of returning to his native country, Allan found that the complications arising out of the French invasion rendered the journey impossible. It was not till two years later that he reached Edinburgh, where it is little wonder that his sketches and narratives of strange adventure amongst Ukraine Cossacks and Circassian chiefs caused something of a sensation.

Settling down in his native city, Allan for a considerable succession of years divided his talent between painting from his foreign experiences and the illustration of Scottish history. But he was smitten with the roving disposition, and when, about 1828, an affection of the eyes rendered some cessation of work and change necessary, he set off for Italy, whence, after wintering in Rome, he extended his travels to Constantinople, Greece, and Asia Minor. The fruits of this journey were manifest in such pictures as The Slave Macrlcet, Constantinople, and Lord Byron in the Fisherman's Hut after Swimming the Hellespont. Twice again he sought fresh material for his art; first in 1834, when he visited Spain and Northern Africa ; and in 1844, when, as Sir William and President of the Royal Scottish Academy, he revisited Russia and painted for the Emperor, whose acquaintance he had made years before as the Grand Duke Nicholas, the picture of Peter the Great teaching his Subjects the Art of Shipbuilding.

Such in brief outline was the career of Sir William Allan; and the variety of his experiences, the popular nature of his subjects, no less than his delightful personality, made him a favourite amongst the prominent men of his day. Scott, Wilson, and Lockhart allude to his work in the most flattering terms, terms they never thought of bestowing on Raeburn. Sir Walter, indeed, answering a request from the Duke of Buccleuch, in 1819, that he would sit to the latter for a portrait to be placed in his library at Bowhill, says, “Why not try Allan, a man of real genius.” Fortunately the Duke held to his choice, but the phrase quoted is interesting as showing the estimation in which the history painter was held in those days.

Allan makes his first appearance in Scottish exhibitions in 1814 with a Portrait of himself in the Costume of a Circassian, painted at Toidizen, 1813, and Don Cossacks conducting French Prisoners to a Russian Camp, with a Russian Village on fire in the distance.

During the immediately succeeding years he was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy, the catalogues of 1818 and 1821 showing respectively two important subjects, The Press Gang and The Murder of Archbishop Sharp. In 1821 he also sent to the Institution’s first exhibition of works of living artists A Polish Chief and Tartar Banditti dividing Spoil. A member of the reconstructed Scottish Academy in 1830, he was elected President on the death of George Watson in 1837, and shortly afterwards—the Academy having now obtained a Royal Charter—he received the honour of knighthood. During his twenty years connection with the body he was an almost constant contributor to its annual exhibitions. Sometimes he is represented by a single picture, often by two or three, seldom by more, for the large historical compositions in which he delighted required time for their working out.

From the painter’s point of view Allan’s work is disappointing. Alike in his Eastern subjects—whether simple or more elaborate—his portraits, and his historic series, there is little to delight the eye or quicken the pulse of the craftsman. Of the former class, such works as Circassian Chiefs selling Captives and The Slave Market, Constantinople, display a fine grouping and a disposition of light and shade which assist well the narrative interest of the subject. The last-named may be taken as representative. A large and important composition, the work of his prime, the canvas sums up Sir William’s merits and defects, and enables us to understand the high place he held in the estimation of his contemporaries. Even now, when distance has been almost annihilated, and the life of the near and far East has become familiar to us, it is impossible to look on this picture without admiration of the skill with which its picturesque and dramatic elements have been combined and utilised. Glancing the eye across its multitudinous grouping one cannot but feel that the artist possessed, in a high degree, the faculty of so arranging and distributing his masses of colour and scheme of light and shade as at once to satisfy the aesthetic sense and to elucidate the narrative. That handsome Pasha who reins in his restive white Arab as he bargains with the negro merchant for his enticing ware, these impassive Turks seated in the foreground, the mounted Circassian chief in shirt of mail, the huddled groups of Greek and Georgian slaves, whose fair complexions contrast with their dark-skinned Ethiopian attendants ; all this well disposed against a restful background of mosque and minaret and the deep blue of an Eastern sky, presented a rare opportunity for the painter. Unfortunately Allan’s brush was not quite equal to the occasion. Though his work is interesting its merit consists rather in the picturesque setting of subject or incident than in the painter-like qualities in which so many of his compatriots have excelled. To a Phillip or a Pettie those costly fabrics of silk and gauze and velvet, or the long-barrelled guns and formidable-looking pistols in Dividing the Spoil, would have furnished occasion for colour and handling. With Allan the picturesqueness of attire and accessories barely saves the pictures from dulness. Sometimes, indeed, his overcrowding of accessories and heavy-handed treatment of detail injure the effect of a really fine design, as in the Circassian Chiefs selling Captives. Of the large historical pieces it is difficult to speak. Our public collections are without examples, if we except the unfinished Bannockburn which now forms part of the circulating collection of the Scottish National Gallery.

Andrew Geddes, on the contrary, was a bom painter. He is difficult to place, in more ways than one. His professional life was devoted almost entirely to portrait-painting, yet he cannot be classed amongst the successors of Raebum treated of in the preceding chapter. Nor can his work be said to have any tme affinity with that of Wilkie. Apart from his solitary essay in character painting—The Draught Players, of 1809—which in treatment shows strongly the influence of the great genre painter, Geddes’s art is individual. He is a contemporary, not a follower, of his better-known countryman.

Again, all through his career he seems to have had a foot on either side the border. As a rule, Scottish painters, during the first three-quarters of the nineteenth century, either remained in the North, or, after a few preliminary years, settled in London. Geddes, till he was well on for forty, hovered between the two, sometimes keeping a studio in both capitals, and even after his settlement in the larger he worked at times in Edinburgh. He was an honorary member of the Royal Institution, and, probably, for that reason, he was never connected with the Scottish Academy. His recognition by the Royal Academy was long delayed, but from 1833 onwards he exhibited as an associate of that body.

At the date of the painter’s birth, his father, David Geddes, held the appointment of deputy auditor in the Excise Office, Edinburgh. The emoluments, though not high, enabled him to form a large collection of pictures, etchings, and engravings, which, after his death, were sold, in 1804, partly in Edinburgh and partly in London. The sale of the prints and engravings lasted fifteen days. The pictures, sixty-nine in number, were disposed of at

Martin’s auction rooms, where the Edinburgh portion of the prints was also sold. Such a home must have been an ideal one for the future painter, who, we are told, used to invest his boyish savings in such prints as took his fancy and were within his slender means. His father, however, was opposed to his following art as a profession, and after passing through Dr. Adam’s class at the High School, and a year or two at the University, he spent five years in the Excise Office. Though he continued to indulge his taste by copying old master drawings lent him by friends, he lost the years when the elements of the craft are most easily assimilated ; and it was only after his father’s death that he was free to follow his own bent.

His real art education commenced when he took his place beside Wilkie, Jackson, and Haydon in the Royal Academy school at the age of twenty-three. That same year—1806—he exhibited at Somerset House St. John in the Wilderness, and two years later, A Girl; Candle-light. At the exhibitions of the Associated Artists in Edinburgh, he is represented from 1809 to 1812 by portraits and a landscape, A Storm Coming on, his solitary contribution for 1810. The Draught Players,* signed 1809, appeared at the Royal Academy the following year. Though evidently inspired by Wilkie’s renderings of like subjects, it displays very considerable ability, both in the observation of character and in execution; whilst its stronger pronunciation of local colour suggests that Geddes may have been one of the influences which led to the fuller recognition of that element in Wilkie’s Village Festival.

He did not again essay the genre department, and for many years thereafter he was kept busy with portrait commissions. He had now returned to Edinburgh, though he regularly visited London during the season. From a list of his works for the years 1812-13, we can gather that already a large proportion of these were the small ful 1-lengths and half-lengths in which he was so successful. Two notable examples of the former were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1816, those of George Sanders the miniaturist and of Wilkie. In the latter, well-known from Ward’s fine mezzotint, the painter’s loosely-knit figure, seen in profile, is enveloped in a flowered dressing-gown, something between fawn and drab in colour, He leans both elbows on the back of a tapestry-covered chair, and his cheek on the right hand. The face is shown nearly full front. A dark folding screen and the shadowed recesses of the room give sufficient breadth and salience, and the rather monotonic arrangement is relieved by the white and blue of stocking and slipper, the red border of an Indian shawl, and the more subdued colours of the tapestried chair and carpet. The head is deftly painted with a full brush, and a surface neither too smooth nor over-impastoed; while the quick gleam of the eye and the looser treatment of the hair add character to features seen under a pretty decided effect of light and shade. There is not all the suavity one could have desired in the lines of the mouth and of the hand 011 which the check is rested ; here, indeed, aa frequently, some of the accessories are touched with greater dexterity than the more important parts, as witness the delicately flowered pattern of the dressing-gown and the broidered fringe of the shawl. As a likeness of Wilkie, it has always been considered both striking and characteristic. Though without the commanding interest of the other, the George Sanders, now in the Scottish National Gallery, is a work of much merit, and marks a distinct advance, technically at least, on the similar portraits of his mother and Archibald Constable, painted in 1812. Judged from the mezzotint so much prized by collectors, the portrait in which Patrick Brydone, the Sicilian traveller, is represented reclining full-length on a sofa, is one of Geddes’s happiest and most original. Another, engraved in the Art Journal for 1853, under the title Dull Readings, which appears amongst the etchings as Mr. and Mrs. Terry, combines finely the artist’s qualities in this work of smaller scale. The dark background of this picture, which measures only 10 X 13 inches, has unfortunately gone, but nothing could be more delightful than the mellow glow and the luscious, yet dainty, touch with which the charming features of Mrs. Terry arc rendered, or the opposition of her white-robed figure to the shadowed form of her drowsy husband. Terry was the dramatiser of many of Scott’s novels, and his wife, a daughter of Alexander Nasmyth.

Geddes’s life-size portraiture has also its individual note. The bust portrait of his mother* seems, from its resemblance to it, to belong to the same date as the small full-length already mentioned, viz., 1812. Mrs. Geddes is in widow’s weeds. The projecting bonnet and veil throw the face into luminous half-tone, and her right hand, dimly seen, draws closer the folds of a cloak of deep olive grey. The chiaroscuro is Rembrandtish, and the handling also recalls some of the Dutchman’s work, for the impasto of the flesh is heavy, and the brushing has little relation to the modelling, a failing as rare in the old masters as with contemporary Scottish painters. The soft pulpy surface of the skin is, nevertheless, effectively rendered, and the features indicated without loss of the breadth specially required in such treatment. A three-quarter length of his sister Anne belongs to about the same date, and contemporaneous portraits by the same hand could hardly be more unlike. Here the artist has thought only of his sitter, a handsome girl of rather slight build and grave demeanour. Miss Geddes is seen in profile. The red gown, of almost classic severity, leaves throat and arms bare, and the fine features are silhouetted against the background, at that angle just removed from the pure profile, which gives a hint of farther cheek and eye. She is of the dark-haired, white-skinned type, and the eyes of blue grey are over-arched with finely pencilled brows. The face is in full light, the only marked shadows being those which indicate the contour of neck and jaw. In technique it differs entirely from the portrait of his mother; for the flesh is painted in a closely wrought material of fine and equal surface, save in the bare arm where the artist has permitted himself a looser handling and a heavier impasto. Also the features are here indicated with a touch which conforms well to the modelling, and is keener in its accentuation than in some of his later work on this scale. The fine complexion is enhanced by the decisive markings of the side locks on brow and temple, and by the dark setting of tree boles and foliage.

It is unnecessary to follow further Geddes’s work in portraiture. Neither can one linger over his Scriptural compositions—Christ and the Woman of Samaria, and The Ascension. The latter only is known to the writer. It forms the altar-piece of the church of St. James, Garlick Hill, and was painted when a brother of his friend Burnet was incumbent there. It is a large upright with life-size figures, and the grouping essential to the subject. Originally a work of much ability, the lower part has been damaged and darkened by fire, and this renders it difficult to form an idea of its merits as a composition. Its colour-scheme associates it with the Venetians, but there is considerable originality in the dramatic presentment of the scene. The artist’s sole venture into the domain of contemporary history—The Discovery of the Scottish Regalia— was, owing no doubt to its great size, left on his hands, and, having been seriously damaged, it was, after Mr. Geddes’s death, divided into parts, some of which—portraits of various personages represented—were sold to them by his widow. A head of Sir Walter Scott, either cut from this picture, or a study for the same, is now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

The work by which Geddes is most widely and favourably known, and which better than any other displays his qualities, belongs to that sphere in which so many portrait-painters have indulged when commissions were slack, the single figure symbolising some whim of the fancy or flight of the imagination. It is a vein peculiarly liable to failure. In nine cases out of ten the idea is inadequately set forth or, what is worse, overstrained; but surely in this Summer* all that one associates with the season is summed up in the graceful form and features of Nasmyth’s daughter, and the environment in which the artist has portrayed her. A great straw hat shadowing face and throat, a cherry-coloured scarf tied loosely about the neck, a dark bodice under an open jacket of sheeny white set against a blue sky and glimpse of summer landscape—the elements are simple—and the whole charm of the picture lies in the felicity with which the artist has suited his colour-scheme to the idea he has sought to illustrate. The broad flap of yellow straw, the loose silken fabrics of sleeves and headgear, the azure and cherry of sky and kerchief, associate themselves readily with his motif; whilst, on the aesthetic side, they are here arranged in a delicious harmony to which value is given by the full black of the bodice. The warm carnations of the shadowed face, the cool reflections from below, eyes and mouth on the verge of laughter, and the wisp of light brown hair about the ears, all bring their quota to the sum total which makes this half-length figure of Miss Nasmyth a very personification of summer. The technique is not faultless, here and there the drawing is loose, and the touch has some of the bluntness and lack of adaptation to the form already noted. But these are slight defects in one of the most entirely satisfying pictures of its class.

Like Wilkie, and fired perhaps by his friend’s example, Geddes experimented in etching. In 1826 he issued a series of ten plates. Of these, that of his mother in hood and cloak, from the picture already described, the Child with Apple, and the cavalier-like head of Henry Broadwood are the most successful. The second of those named, a dry-point, has induced Hamerton to include Geddes amongst distinguished etchers, and he also speaks highly of the first and of one of the landscape plates. His manner differs from that of Wilkie much as his painting does. There is less of the clean, lithe line, and a softer, more lithographic-like effect is obtained. That of the child is of great charm. An infant, of perhaps two years, seated on the turf of some woodland glade, reaches forward one bare arm with the apple, resting the other near a reserve supply of fruit by its side. There is here a Reynolds-like grace and sense of innocence which are quite fascinating. The wide-open dark eyes, a chain of beads about the neck, and the apple in the hand are the only points emphasised, and by contrast they enhance the flowing lines and delicate shadow's of the face and white frock, from under the folds of which one naked foot emerges. A shady background of broken bank, tree stem, and leafage, gives a fine setting for the head and shoulders. The handsome features of Henry Broadwood are seen at the three-quarter angle. The type is more of the seventeenth than of the nineteenth century; the touch of hauteur in the side glance, as well as the indication of Vandyck collar, associates it with some of the portraits the Flemish painter has left us of the Royalist aristocracy of his time. Nothing could be more dainty than the softness and perfect precision of the lines with which the wavy hair and delicate contours are expressed. There is little shadow; what there is is mostly in the hair, but the few darker markings of eyes and nostril, and those under the ear and chin, are added with consummate skill.

Geddes is one of those not infrequent in the annals of Art and Literature whose reputations seem never to have equalled their abilities. His Work was known and appreciated by his brother artists, Wilkie and Lawrence amongst the number, but official recognition came late and never fully, whilst many ineh of inferior parts passed quickly to the highest honours of the Academy. It cannot be said that he was neglected by the public, for his commissions were numerous and his circumstances seem to have been easy all through life. Perhaps, as in other similar cases, there was with Geddes a lack of that concentration which is one of the main elements of success. Even in portraiture he halts between the small full-lengths we associate with him, and the life size in which all the masters have won their laurels. The former ally him also with a department of genre in which he might have shone, and after which he seems always to have hankered. His early venture in The Draught Players was of a different nature. For this popular side of genre he had neither the powers of observation nor the skill in the designing and grouping of numerous figures which are the sine qua non of success. But in his little picture, Dull Readings, and in various of his small portraits, are we not in the very atmosphere of De Hooch and Terburg? of those cosy, homely interiors which preserve for us after two centuries and a half so invaluable a record of middle-class Dutch life. Geddes has all the skill of craft and the delicate discrimination of the surfaces of fabrics and still life which play such an important role in pictures of the kind. Again, his wide culture and foreign travel awakened ambitions which led him to devote much time to making copies of the old masters, and there is little doubt that to the same source may be traced his excursions into the domain of sacred art. These congenial pursuits, though they lend charm to the artist’s life, promote another reputation nor commercial success. For the latter it is necessary to concentrate one’s energies—sotfietimes even to keep thrumming the same string for half a lifetime.

He had high ideals, which perhaps the want of early training hindered his quite arriving at, but what he accomplished is sufficient to give him an honourable place amongst Scottish, or even amongst British painters. Wilkie was right when, after seeing one of his combinations of fancy with portraiture, he said “ If Mr. Geddes could once get the public applause on his side he would never lose it, his works are so far above what is called the fashion; and in this style of art, it is my decided opinion he has more taste than any artist in Britain.” Alas ! the public verdict is reflected in the fact that whilst a memorial tablet marks the residence of Sir William Allan, no such tribute has yet been paid to the superior art of Andrew Geddes.

In Wilkie’s other contemporaries his influence is more evident. One of them, Alexander Fraser, acted as his assistant for twenty years, working in his studio, and being responsible for much of the still-life portions of his master’s elaborate compositions. The paintings of Lizars and Burnet are founded on those of Wilkie alike in subject and technique. Both were engravers, and to the latter especially art is deeply indebted for his artistic renderings of some of the most popular works of his friend and fellow student, as well as for his various writings, which, it is hardly too much to say, have become classics in their special department. The titles of his exhibited pictures sufficiently attest their origin—The Draught Players, The Humorous Ballad, Greenwich Hospital and Naval Heroes, and such like. The last-named, his most important work, was painted for the Duke of Wellington as a companion to Chelsea Pensioners. As in the better-known picture, the naval heroes read the news and discuss the events of the war in the open, and though, no special victory being associated with the event, the canvas wants the dramatic intensity of its rival, there is a certain similarity of arrangement. The treatment is more conventional and the grouping in parts confused and unrestful. Some of the heads are finely characterised, but the browner tone and more uncouth technique betray the tyro in the painter’s craft. In spite of these defects it is a work of much ability and forms a not unworthy pendant to Wilkie’s picture.

Of the work of his younger brother James not much is known north of the Tweed. When little over twenty he followed the engraver to London, where, captivated by the works of Cuyp and Paul Potter, he devoted himself to the landscape and animal department. Of a delicate constitution, he early fell into a consumption, of which he died at the age of twenty-eight. Judged by a small canvas—Cattle in a Landscape at South Kensington—the young Scotsman was far from having attained the technical skill of the masters he so admired.

Lizars is well represented in the Scottish National Gallery by his Reading the Will and A Scotch Wedding; inspired, one would have said, by Wilkie’s better-known pictures of the same subject, but for the fact that they were painted some years earlier. Both show great dramatic ability and a keen observation of character rendered with a touch which, in spite of a thin and precise application of the pigment, admirably suits the purpose. It is said that owing to his father’s death about this time, leaving a widow and family dependent on the son’s exertions, Lizars sacrificed his higher ambitions to his sense of duty and returned to the paternal profession of engraving. Whether he would have reached a much higher standard is at best open to question. For in these crowded panels there is a certain want of taste, a forcing of the note. The restrained and sympathetic execution and the quiet spaces which give restfulness to Wilkie’s most stining compositions are wanting. The colour, too, is unpleasantly cold and slaty in the one, and as unpleasantly hot in the other. But in both, some of the heads are painted with admirable daintiness of touch—those of the comely young widow in Reading the Will and of the red-cloaked woman in A Scotch Wedding may be instanced. Lord Young’s collection contains a clever sketch of the first-named picture.

Fraser also is somewhat wanting in taste; his figures frequently verge on the vulgar, but he can rise to better chings. Tam o’ Shanter and the Smith, exhibited at the B.oyal Academy in 1846, is a good example. The types chosen are not without a strain of coarseness, but both are painted with a gusto which suits the occasion; and a foil to the boisterous hilarity of the “drouthy cronies” is provided in the patient “naig” which turns its head to regard wistfully the folly of its master. The skill with which its partly shadowed form is evolved from the umbers of the background is a fine example of a method specially associated with Wilkie and his followers. A little picture in the possession of Lady Macnee also shows the artist to great advantage. A red cock perched on an upturned tub is crowing lustily over the prostrate form of a white rival. The incident, though trivial, has its spice of humour, and it is handled throughout with a vivacity which recalls the work of some of the Dutch painters of poultry and still life.

The colour in the dishevelled plumage of the vanquished bird is especially fine. This is evidently a study for the foreground incident of his picture, The Moment of Victory.

Two names of slightly later date may be added to the list, those of Walter Geikie and William Kidd. The former, who was deaf and dumb, is best known through his etchings, mostly humorous incidents of low life, culled from Edinburgh and the surrounding districts. His painting is of little significance. A Cottage Scene with Figures is at the Mound, where also may be seen two drawings in Indian ink for his Etchings Illustrative of Scottish Life and Scenery.

Kidd was a man of a different stamp. He is represented at the first exhibition of the Associated Artists— that of 1809. The subject, A Cobbler's Shop, is entered in the catalogue as “by W. Kidd, aged 18 years, apprentice to J. Howe.” About 1821 he removed to London, after which he was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Academy, chiefly of subjects associated with sport. He seems never to have had much success, though his works reveal a talent which ought to have given him a high rank amongst painters. A small panel in the Kelvingrove Museum, An Art Connoisseur, may be cited in proof of this. A monkey, mounted on a red-cushioned chair, peers through a binocular at a painting of a nude female which is enclosed in a cabinet. The apartment is profusely hung with pictures; and two domestics, one a negro, stand grinning in the doorway. The humour of the scene is enhanced by the delightful spontaneity with which the artist has rendered the various fabrics and furnishings of the collector’s sanctum. A picture of a humorous street incident, in which a butcher’s boy is laid hold of by an irate bailiff, though, like most of Kidd’s work, verging on vulgarity, shows much excellent painting in the central group. The composition suffers from the overcrowding of the subsidiary parts.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus