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The Scottish School of Painting
Chapter XV. Later Landscape


In connection with the work of Ewbank and Fenwick, reference was made to the number of North of England painters who had identified themselves with Scottish art. Of these Bough was the ablest. A native of Carlisle, he was early placed in the office of a local lawyer, but a strong natural bent soon led to his substituting the brush for the quill. After a rather erratic commencement, during which he spent some time both in London and Manchester, he came to Glasgow, whilst still a young man, and ultimately to the Scottish capital, where the best years of his working life were spent.

Bough’s name is still a household word, not in Edinburgh only, but throughout Scotland. Of a keen intellect, he was able to master without difficulty whatever he set his mind to, and his popularity is not due to his skill as a painter merely. He was well read in a wide range of subjects, he sang a good song, could perform with skill on various instruments, and even in his later days, when his proportions were somewhat elephantine, he would tread a measure with the lightness and grace of a “young Lochinvar.” He fraternised with all sorts and conditions of men, and was popular with most, a terror only to the stand-off and upsetting. He was a prince of romancers; many and wondrous were the stories he told of his adventures when on sketching expeditions and the parts he played therein. A veritable Bohemian, in whom the contrary qualities of human nature were more on the surface than with most, his kindly and charitable deeds were many, and his scathing words—not always deserved—by no means few. In all he did he was very much alive, and this vitality lies at the back of what is best in his art.

His genesis is to be sought rather amongst the great English landscapists than with those who had preceded him in Scotland. With Muller and Cox especially he had well-marked affinities. Like more than one of the masters of landscape he worked for a while as a scene-painter, so acquiring the facility that marked his after-development. First in Manchester, and later in Glasgow, he thus supported himself, sketching diligently from nature during his leisure hours. In Scotland his earliest works were associated with St. Mungo’s city and neighbourhood, and with the estuary of the Clyde. At first these had something of the convention of the painters of the earlier part of the century, but ere long they show a perception of aspects of light and atmosphere little considered in our native school before that time. An agile hand, a quick eye, and an instinct for composition, with the abounding physical energy of the man, carried him fast and far during the first ten years of his professional life.

In 1855 he removed to Edinburgh, and in the following year he was elected an Associate of the Academy. Even before he left Glasgow he had been recognised as a coming man, and during his early years in the capital his exhibits at the Academy brought him a great reputation. His advent was a new strength to the landscape-painters of that institution, which by this time had survived its early troubles. Amongst them was one whose name was to become intimately associated with his own—a kindred spirit, some half-dozen years his junior, Alexander Fraser. Those acquainted with the art life of Edinburgh during the later fifties and earlier sixties will remember how frequently the names were bracketed. Younger brethren of the brush spoke of “ Bough and Fraser ” as if there was some closer bond of union than membership of the same craft. Equally endowed by nature, they excelled in different qualities, and, as frequently happens when one of a pair is the complement of the other, their association had the best results; for no works of either excel those produced whilst they worked together amongst the oaks of Cadzow or on the island of Inchcolm. Frasers of this period have something of the spontaneous composition of his senior, and the Boughs partake of the colour-quality of the younger artist.

His works are very numerous, the thirty years of his professional life having been marked by continuous activity. Dramatic rather than emotional, his best pictures were struck off at a white heat. Stories almost incredible are told of the speed at which he worked. A clean canvas would be taken to his studio in the morning, and before night it was consigned, a finished picture, to some purchaser or forwarded to an exhibition. Of some landscape work of more recent times this might not seem much to say, but Bough’s pictures were crowded with detail and the keenest observation of natural effects. Within the four comers of his frames there was seldom any space to let. He painted all sorts of subjects within the domain of landscape, but he is never happier than when he deals with the hurry and bustle of the crowded wharves and quays of great seaports. The Port of London and The Tower of London, exhibited in 1857 and 1866 respectively, are fine examples, as are also the various versions of The Broomielaw of 1861-66.

Both shores of the Forth were his familiar sketching-grounds in the immediate neighbourhood, whilst Holy Island and the Solway, on the east and west border-line, were also much frequented. Cadzow and his native Cumberland supplied many of his most successful inland subjects, but it is hard to find a district in Scotland or the northern counties of England which Bough has not visited and illustrated. The heaths and commons of the farther south and the picturesque canals of the Midlands were also laid under contribution; and, though he was never much abroad, the quaint harbours of the neighbouring French coast also furnished material for his brush.

His finest pictures belong to the later fifties and to the decade 60-70. During these years, in the prime of his manhood, and often with the stimulating influence of Fraser at his elbow, were produced the pictures already adverted to and a host of others too numerous to mention. A visitor to his studio in later years was surprised to see him sign a little bit he had just finished, “ Sam Bough, 1857,” but the explanation was immediately forthcoming, “ You know, that’s said to be my best period ! ” From the date of his coming to Edinburgh his popularity never waned, and throughout the length and breadth of Scotland his work found a ready sale. His art was never for the select few. Any one who had an eye at all for his outward surroundings could recognise the drama of natural effects, whether of sunshine or storm, as depicted in his vivid and sparkling transcripts.

An analysis of some good example may help us to understand an art which commended itself to so wide a public. One of The Broomielaws, seen lately at the Glasgow Arts Club, will suffice. The canvas, signed 1861, is small, but the methods are characteristic of many larger pictures of the same nature. The subject is the view from the Jamaica Street Bridge looking westward from its parapet, before the piers and girders of the Caledonian Railway Company had thrust themselves between bridge and quay. It is towards sundown, a faint yellowish haze suffuses everything. From the right foreground the quay, and the street facing it, recede in a finely-felt perspective towards the centre of the picture, where a forest of masts, spars, and sails indicates the commerce of a great seaport. On the left, more shipping, and, in the fairway between, a tug conveying a string of barges down stream. There is life and movement everywhere, on bustling quay, crowded passenger-boats, and river surface agitated by the paddles of the receding tug. The very sun seems to quiver and palpitate as it nears the warm vapours of the river.

On examination the simplicity of the means is surprising. Over a warm, yellowish ground, rather lower-toned than the sky above, the scene has been wrought in an almost monochromatic scheme of warm greys, stronger as it nears the spectator and directly under the sun. Only in the immediate foreground is there anything like positive colour, in the costumes of the passengers on board the nearest boat, the pennon at its bow, and, already deadened by intervening atmosphere, the red paddle of that beyond. The subject is realised by justness of tone, an absolute knowledge of the forms of the various objects and surfaces represented, and a skill of craft expressing the same with swiftness and precision. In the buildings to the right, for example, the architectural detail of facade and tower is rendered with a few upright and parallel brushings, faint but precise. However delicate the relation of tone, the form, where emphasised, is given with unwavering edge, like a wash in a Turner drawing. Indeed, his free use of turpentine imparts something of a water-colour treatment to the finest of Bough’s oils, the superimposed brushings having more of the flatness of tempera and the incisive contour given by the camel hair than is usually associated with the stronger material. The sun and the warm gradations of the surrounding sky are wrought in a full fat body of paint, which gets thinner and finer in surface as it passes into the half-tones, whilst, underneath, the lights on the troubled water and all smooth or polished objects which flash back the sun’s rays with varying degrees of intensity, are expressed in a juicy impasto and with a touch at once brisk and admirably descriptive. The colour is not of the finest, having something of the quality associated with scene painting ; but here, as often in such subjects, one forgets it in the delightful vivacity of the handling. R. L. Stevenson said of Bough’s painting that it was “an act of dashing conduct, like the capture of a fort in war.’’ Like the rattle of beaten drums, it may not touch the emotions, but it stirs the blood.

A more important version of the same subject— Broomielaw from the Bridge: “Let Glasgow Flourish”— was shown at the Glasgow Institute in 1866. There, and at the Scottish Academy’s exhibitions, Bough’s exhibits were often limited only by the number allowed.

The subjects are drawn from many different localities, and deal with every variety of atmospheric effect: The Bass Rock in a Storm; Edinburgh from the Canal; The Drove at Sunrise; Cattle Crossing the Solway; Kirkwall Harbour; The Rocket-cart—Isle of Wight. But even the more important of them are too numerous to recapitulate. Often the smaller canvases were of the finer quality, and one characteristic, large and small had in common, the ease and appropriateness with which he managed the introduction of figures. Whether he is dealing with land or sea, with populous city or rural seclusion, his figures, single or grouped, are not only right as regards the composition of the picture, they are in the attitude or action that accords with their occupation, or the want of it.

As might be inferred from what has been said, Bough was a master of water-colour, and by many his work in that medium is regarded as his best. Certainly its technique seems to suit his talent. It is of his procedure in this department that Stevenson further says, “It was a sight to see him attack a sketch, peering boldly through his spectacles, and, with somewhat tremulous fingers, flooding the page with colour; for a moment it was an indescribable hurly-burly, and then chaos would become ordered, and you would see a speaking transcript.” In such sketches a facile hand and unrivalled power of drawing gave him a rare command over the ever-shifting panorama of sky and cloudland, whilst his dramatic instinct enabled him swiftly to seize the arrangement and composition most appropriate for the subject under treatment. He worked mostly with the pure wash; but body-colour is used in points and sometimes floated into the broader tints. He may not attain to Cox’s purity of colour; but in other directions he outstrips his great predecessor. On one occasion, at an exhibition where his work had been placed near that of Cox, he was heard remarking, with a self-satisfied chuckle, “Aye, Davie, lad, that settles the matter between you and me.”

Unfortunately for his reputation his work is of very unequal merit. Both in oils and in water-colour, but especially in the former, he often falls sadly below the high standard here claimed for him. In many of his larger oil pictures the scenic element asserts itself strongly both in the technique and in a somewhat melodramatic treatment; the colour gets cold and chalky, harsh and jarring notes obtrude themselves, and the conventions of his method are minus the deftness so remarkable in the finer examples. This is the lot of most great producers; but in Bough’s case a sufficient number of works in either medium will stand comparison with all but the one or two greatest landscapists of the century.

Fraser’s name appears in the Scottish Academy’s catalogues three years before Bough’s. His first picture, in 1846, is entitled Gipsy Girl in Prison. In 1847 he exhibits A Cottage Interior; but in the years immediately following, he tends more and more towards landscape, and, after 1852, he is known as a landscape painter. During the fifties he worked with Bough in the neighbourhood of Hamilton, and it was here that their influence on each other commenced. Though later he painted a good deal in the Highlands, Fraser took more kindly to some aspects of Lowland and English scenery. Across the border, Warwickshire and Surrey, were his favourite sketching-grounds, and to these districts belong some of his best works. For a year or two during the sixties he settled in London ; and it is curious that, whilst various Scottish landscapists found abundant encouragement there, Fraser’s works made no impression, and it is only now that they are beginning to be appreciated in the English market.

Fraser lacked some of the qualities which gave popularity to the work of his rival. He was not a composer, as Bough was, and, translated into black and white, the difference is felt immediately. It follows, almost as a matter of course, that he appeals to a smaller public; but, north of the Tweed, at least, he has a great reputation, and amongst connoisseurs no pictures are more sought after. For, in lieu of what he wants, he has qualities more valued amongst the initiated. He is the colourist always, in so far as quality of pigment is concerned; and as most painters regard colour as the crowning achievement of their art, this is sufficient to confer distinction. Fraser was the first of our landscapists who painted his pictures direct from nature, and his work has the merits, if also some of the defects, of a practice which, so far as Scotland is concerned, he inaugurated. English painters were adopting the same method, though there the greater number of those who carried to the fields and hedgerows the identical canvases to be exhibited were painters of figure, or mixed landscape and figure subjects. The mid-century naturalistic movement was in its earlier stages, and the impassioned realism of Millais and Hunt extended to the smallest detail of their landscape backgrounds. Fraser has nothing in common with these either in aim or treatment. But the movement affected more than the Pre-Raphaelites. Many who did not share the convictions of the Brethren were seeking to rid themselves of old conventions, and in painters like Hook and Oakes one finds something akin to the first of our Scottish naturalists. Truth to nature was his one aim, and though truth is many-sided, and all painters claim to follow it, Fraser’s is a realism of a highly interesting and personal kind.

His technique is seen at its best in various of his Cadzow subjects, and in such canvases as On the Avon and Amongst the Surrey Hills. The latter, painted about ’66-’67, represents a wide expanse of country viewed from the undulating slopes of a foreground where newly-felled timber mingles with tree and scrub. Towards the left a wain with white and brown horses, tandem fashion, is being loaded with faggots, amongst which figures are at work. Such a scene, under a grey afternoon of late autumn, with its hints of veiled sunlights on the rounded slopes of the more distant country, was an ideal one for Frazer. The foreground, with its wealth of colour in foliage, recumbent beech bole, and bracken, is rendered with an extraordinary vigour. The eye is nowhere repelled by earthy pigment or clotted impasto, but rests with delight on a substratum which the ever varying umbers and ambers save from monotony. Over this the detail of form and the local colour are wrought in a full, juicy material, and with a running hand characteristic of the artist’s style. For Fraser’s naturalism never finds expression in that verisimilitude sought after by the Pre-Raphaelites ; rather he uses a sleight of hand whereby a method of his own does duty for their more laborious processes.

Nowhere is this better seen than in the treatment of figure, or figure and animal groups, with which the Scottish painter varies his foregrounds. It was the practice of some Dutch landscapists to relegate such adjuncts to painters in those genres; thus we know Ruisdael and Hobbema both employed Wouverman, Van de Velde, and Berghem in this way. As might be expected, such figures are touched with a deftness which leaves nothing to be desired. Yet the result is far from satisfactory. Not only, by their placing, do they often conflict with the sentiment of the picture, but, being more fully realised than their surroundings, a discord is set up which detracts from the unity of the impression. Again, in more recent times, and as the result of a misplaced naturalism, one has seen in pictures, the main interest of which is landscape, figures exquisitely detailed, but which fail of their purpose, which is to indicate, as lightly as may be, some appropriate human interest, and to touch the assthetic sense by the introduction of those more positive points of colour and light for which they give opportunity. Fraser has understood all this better than most; and his figures, both in their placing and rendering, are of a piece with theh surroundings. In his more highly-finished compositions, The Avon for example, the haymakers at rest in the foreground are treated with the same completion—but no more—as the haycocks and swathes of hay about them, whilst in Amongst the Surrey Hills the faggot wain and its attendants partake of the freer handling which characterises the picture throughout. In both, the opportunities for giving variety to the grey greens of summer and the russets of autumn by glints of light on parti-coloured draperies, and on the whites and browns of the animals, are used with rare skill. Even in the completion of The Avon group there is no sense of labour, the touch is free, and the pigment limpid as in the surroundings; a keener contour and a more careful discrimination of the various planes and surfaces are observable, but none of the tightness of over finish. And in his more loosely handled pictures, the figures, though they suit their environment, never sink to the clumsiness which some modern painters affect.

Like most who are weak in the composer’s faculty, Fraser is seen at his best in pictures of moderate dimensions ; and in some of his smaller Cadzow subjects* and others, such as Tillietudlem,f Lanercost,\ and a Canal Scene with a small sloop passing through a lock, one forgets his defects in the rare perfection of his qualities. In the last-named, and in various others, something of Bough’s gift has communicated itself to his brother artist: to his own luscious colour and high finish he adds a sense of arrangement and composition, and also dares effects seldom attempted in the larger pictures. In some of his still-life studies—dead birds, birds’-nests, and interiors from Holy-rood and Barncleuth—his technique is surprisingly fine, He and Bough have their points in common as well as their contrasts, their work being alike in its want of the emotional element. One does not dream over a Fraser any more than over a Bough. But in an art where, as Josef Israels has it, the how is more than the what, one finds enough to admire in Fraser’s strongly individual realism and technique.

Midway between the last two as regards date, and in striking contrast to their modernity, comes J. C. Wintour. Beginning like Fraser with figure-subjects, he was led by the same influences to the practice of landscape. An expedition to Perthshire in 1850 may be said to have finally determined his choice. Titles like Prospero a/nd Caliban, and A Flower Girl, give place to landscapes, though in some of these, Minnow Fishers, Yowng Anglers, &c., the figures form an important adjunct of the composition. In one, At the Spring* painted towards the close of his life, a fair-haired little girl with water cans and attendant collie furnishes the chief interest.

There was a time when it seemed as if Wintour’s art was to partake more largely of the modem spirit. A small picture, The Woodland Glade,\ which must date from the early fifties, is elaborate in detail, with the notable difference that the full greens of summer are rendered with no trace of the crudity which usually mars such conscientious studies of the professed realists. In this bit of cool greenery, there is in stem and bough, in foliage and mossy stone, a sensitiveness to the form and an apprehension of the densities and surfaces of things, which are sorely missed in his later and more ambitious efforts. It was, indeed, the great defect of Wintour’s talent that he was never able to engraft these delightful qualities on the idealistic compositions to which his maturer life was devoted. For awhile, and especially in some of his Warwickshire pictures, there is a partial amalgamation. In various of these, which one remembers, he attains to a fine massing and balance of parts, with at least a les obvious departure from natural colour and conditions of light than in his romantic and often rather fantastic conceptions of Highland pass or Border castle. In Near Winchburgh, Guy's Cliff— Warwick, and a small picture, The Village Well, the realistic strives with more .or less of success to unite itself with the traditional; but as time goes on the former shrinks, the latter grows. The larger construction and finer balance of the great classicists attract him more and more, and, unfortunately, he seems unable to carry through his schemes without falling back on the conventional tones on which their pictures were mostly based. Every now and then, like his forerunner Thomson, he seems about to emerge into the light, but as often, like him, he shrinks back to the time-honoured varnishy browns, which were always safe, and not unpleasant to look on. One forgives the amateur more readily than the painter who lived far into a later era. In Thomson’s day Sir George Beaumont was an authority, but ere Wintour reached his prime the “brown tree” had long been discarded.

The Scottish artist’s technique is that which the school inherited from the Flemings, and in his use of varnishy umbers he pushes the method to its extreme, with the result that his work has all the flimsiness which is its besetting fault. His processes are much the same as those of Sir David Wilkie when, fifty years earlier, he made those delightful sketches for his crowded figure subjects which so charmed Eugene Delacroix. The evolution of the design from an umber ground by the dexterous application of lighter and darker sympathetic colours, and the dainty pencilling of so sure a hand, has a fascination that no other method could give, it so admirably fulfils the purpose of a sketch. But it no longer suffices when presented to us in what purport to be fully thought out and completed compositions. Especially when applied to landscape, its cruder forms are inadequate; for the want of the pervading influence of light is more keenly felt in the open, and this is just the quality to which the umber ground does not readily lend itself. After his earlier middle period and the passing away of the naturalistic impulse, Wintour fell back on a variation of the old method. In the slighter early work the umber scheme is accepted, as in Wilkie’s sketches, for the suggestiveness with which it is used, and it often comes wonderfully near the true tones of nature, as in Old Struan Bridge and Autumn on the All Water It is when a ruddier brown is used as a basis and the superimposed matter gets heavier and more dense, as often in his larger works, that the convention is not so easily accepted, for the looseness of the method is attended with defects scarcely felt in the smaller canvases. The composition— on certain well-marked lines—is as fine as ever, finer in some of his latest conceptions. The foreground masses of trees on this hand or that, the winding vale or bosky woodland of the middle distance, and the escape into the farther distance, are disposed on the large lines of the masters. It is when one considers the picture more closely that a something of incoherent and flimsy obtrudes itself. The scale of the different parts is badly adjusted. One gets a little confused in attempting to follow the landscape from plane to plane; roads run nowhither; the configuration of the country is ignored; and sometimes the masses of foliage have a clogged and flattened appearance, as in the side scenes at the theatre. Figures or cattle, when introduced, add to this confusion by a vagueness of scale and relationship to their surroundings, and, generally speaking, there is a lack of cohesion, and of the solidity and restfulness of the earth’s surface. In a word, Wintour’s work is deficient in backbone. Further, the season, the time of day, the thousand and one intimacies of atmospheric effect or varieties of lighting and cloud-form find little expression in his work. And the fact that, with all their incoherences, his works abound in some of the most precious qualities shows how wide the field of art is. For there is in them an element of romance which appeals to certain moods as no merely naturalistic work can.

This is nowhere better seen than in a picture of moderate size, in which a peep of blue water and a panorama of piled up hills are seen beyond a sloping parklike country. A noble group of trees rises high on the left, balanced by a broken bank with lower scrub-wood on the right. Between these and across the wooded glades of the middle distance, the eye seeks and rests with delight on the cooler hues of the more open landscape and a finely variegated summer sky. This picture, which has been called Near Queensferry, is not free from the defects which mar so many of Wintour’s compositions, but his finer qualities overpower them. The play and interchange of dull reds, blues, and pearly greys, in tiled roof, still water, and the partly veiled ridges of the distance, make a delicious harmony, whilst the nearer landscape, in spite of the somewhat forced shadow of the middle distance, is handled with more virility than usual, the colour being everywhere full and luscious and the touch free. A hint of humanity is given in the passing steamer, and in the church tower and buildings of some village on the farther shore. Whether it be some reminiscence of the Queen’s Ferry from the grounds of Dalmeny or Hopetoun, or a work of pure imagination, matters little. Through that woodland glade, the painter has opened a vista into the realms of fancy and romance. These finer qualities of the artist are also seen in two small moonlights, On the Garry* and Blairlogie. t Here the conditions have compelled a departure from the tones in which Wintour is so apt to run riot. Dense greens and varnishy browns give place to a gamut of warm greys, everywhere full of suggestions of colour, and both in the wooded vale of the Garry, and in the still waters and vague reaches of level country around the castle of Blairlogie, much of the true aspect, as well as of the glamour of moonlight, has been caught. All through his career, Wintour’s work in oil is accompanied by a series of water-colour drawings, mostly slight, but of delightful spontaneity.

John Milne Donald, a west country artist some years the senior of the two last-named, was little known in Edinburgh till towards the close of his career. The inheritor of the same traditions, the realistic movement caught him not in the ardour of early manhood, as it did Fraser and Wintour, and he seems to have yielded slowly to the influence. His work till near the middle fifties retains much of the old conventions which he uses in rather an undistinguished way. But from that time onward, possibly through association with Bough, who was then resident in the west, a change is observable. It does not take quite the same form as with his juniors. The awakening is to the charm and variety of natural lighting rather than to elaboration of detail. Year by year his work was growing in the vitality which comes of a settled and strongly held conviction ; for with the new outlook on nature he attained something of Bough’s racy and vigorous handling. But the new impulse, which came to him after he had travelled long on the old road, was cut short all too soon by failure of health and derangement of mental faculties a year or two before his death in 1866.

A small picture in the possession of the writer, where a thatched biggin stands on a rough shore of bent and shingle with serrated hills seen across an expanse of sea, epitomises the mannerisms of his first twelve or fourteen years. The darker parts, rubbed in with a transparent brown—unpleasantly hot—the lights and half-tones, and the neutral colours of herbage, sea, and hills, of a material only slightly heavier, with the loaded yellow cumuli opposed to a blue of poor quality, are all characteristic; as is the deft though mannered way in which they are used. The Coming Storm—Arran* exhibits the same methods in a dramatic arrangement of rough heathy foreground, shadowed middle distance and rugged hills half obliterated by rising storm cloud. A gleam of water, a touch of smoke, and the man hurrying along a road which runs diagonally into the picture, give point to the scene. One or two small canvases show the artist’s qualities with less of his mannerism. A Storm at Fairlie * and Autumn Afternoon f are sympathetic renderings of widely different aspects of nature; the latter delicious in its portrayal of the still sunlight of the fall of the year. Two pictures, a larger and a smaller, of a bend on a river over-arched with autumnal foliage haunt the recollection of the writer. One or two masted boats or barges, introduced with great spirit, impart a canal-like aspect to the scene. The smaller canvas especially showed Bough’s influence, with a more limpid quality than the Cumbrian usually attained in his oil painting. The placing and painting of the boats had a still closer affinity to the dexterous handcraft of that versatile painter, so much so that the owner used to doubt whether they were not the actual work of Bough. The two would be much together about that time and might set their hand to each other’s work, as is not unusual with brethren of the craft. Bough, it is known, had a high admiration for his friend’s work, and, it is said, used to declare that, had he lived, the Glasgow artist might have excelled him—a large admission, for Bough never underrated his own work.

Towards his later years Milne Donald, who never wandered far in search of subjects, worked within even narrower limits, Campsie Glen, Loch Eck, Innellan, and the shores of the Clyde, furnishing most of his subjects. In some of these the old mannerisms mingle with the new qualities, the shadows are flimsy, and the browns of which they are composed too positive; he handles the foliage more freely, but, in stream, and boulder and shingle, wherever, indeed, he attempts a more searching realism, the touch is somewhat heavy. In others again—presumably the later—the painting is strong and full, and he is able to adapt his brush to the new truths he is assimilating. No Scottish landscapist remained more faithful, not to his country merely, but to that well-marked division of it where the Highland and Lowland shires slope steeply or gently to the sea-lochs and blue waters of the Clyde. And his works reflect their locale in no vague or uncertain way. They are redolent of the west, whether he deals with the undulating bosky country adjoining the Highland border, the shingly shores of the Firth, or the bolder scenery of Argyle and Arran. Nothing could well be farther from the classic lines on which Wintour worked; Milne Donald weaves no ideal schemes out of elements which might well have lent themselves to it, but his best pictures, without being slavishly realistic, have that “local colour” which is the abiding gift of the middle-century movement to landscape art.

Contemporary with these, James Cassie and Waller H. Paton practised the marine and inland branches of landscape. Neither takes a very high place—their role was too restricted—but each had a great popularity within his metier. The coast scenery of the former cannot be said to owe much to the earlier marine painters, either Scottish or English, and, as applied to him, the term has a different significance. He views the sea more as a landsman than as one acquainted with reefing, close-hauling, and “ the beauty and mystery of the ships,” which are the very raison d'etre of the works of such as Wilson and Stanfield. He seems, indeed, to have drifted into the class of subjects by which he is best known comparatively late in his practice. Earlier he painted portrait, landscape, and genre in Aberdeen, of which district he was a native. A dweller on the coast, the two latter branches would quite naturally lead to his ultimate preference for the sea. In Mussel Gatherers, Low Water, and such like subjects, exhibited during the sixties, the sea and shore were used as a background for the figures, but, as time went on, the figure interest dropped out, or was used as a mere accessory. As a painter of the sea his range was limited, its placid aspects only having much recognition from him. Morning or evening effects, where rising or setting sun reflects on the still waters, or the sea vapours veil lightly the distant headland, were favourite themes. Or again, the deepening twilight reveals the flash of pharos or lightship, or a white or yellow moon silvers or gilds the mottled clouds, and the darker but still smooth surface of the sea. Now and again, there is the azure of noonday, when, with a touch of north in the wind, sail, and tower, and sea birds gleam white against the blue, but the drama of storm and storm cloud never, or almost never. His technique has nothing of the traditional about it. Neither the brown transparencies, the limpid or glutinous material, nor the keen edge and racy handling of his predecessors are to be found in his dainty but somewhat soft and mannered brush work. Indeed, before Cassie took to the sea, a new order was taking the place of the old. A great awakening of landscape painting had taken place in France and Holland, in which latter country Roelofs and Mollinger, the precursors of modern Dutch landscape, were working on new lines. Aberdeen was early in touch with this movement both through personal contact and the acquisition of examples of those pioneers by local collectors. The new aims and methods of the Dutchmen are distinctly felt in Cassie’s work, though he never attained to much virility in the use of them.

The name of Waller H. Paton is too much associated with a class of his pictures in which elaborately wrought Highland scenery was set against glowing twilight skies. In these the warm browns of the foreground and middle distance are not very happily related to the blue and purple of distant mountain ranges and the saffron or rosy hues of sky and cloudland. The highly wrought minutiae of the nearer portions, and especially the fretwork of brown leafage when trees are brought against the light, have much to do with this. But Paton has done better things. Many of his water-colour vignettes—-jottings made on the spot or recollections of effects on continental river or in Highland strath—have much charm. One of Cologne, with its bridge of boats curving into the foreground, and the quaint silhouette of the old city seen against a true twilight, is quite Turneresque. A bit of undulating Highland country under an effect of afternoon sunshine, which used to be in the possession of the late G. P. Chalmers, was also an accomplished piece of work much prized by its talented owner. Mr. Paton collaborated with his brother Sir Noel in a series of designs for Aytoun’s “ Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers.”

Various others there were who had considerable repute about the middle of the century, but the work of J. C. Brown, Arthur Perigal, and James Giles, has little individuality, nor can it be said to add to the reputation of the Scottish landscape school. Scott Lauder and Pettes Douglas in their later years produced landscapes of great excellence, but their work in that field has been considered in connection with their figure-painting.


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