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  • Alistair Braidwood

The Boys are Back in Town…

This April sees an exhibition at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery of work from the original Glasgow Boys. The painters featured include James Guthrie (whose evocative A Highland Funeral (1882) appears above) E.A Hornel, George Henry, Joseph Crawhall, John Lavery and Arthur Melville.

These painters came to prominence at the end of the 19th century, and although it usually a mistake to try and group artists together in such a way, it wasn’t only place that brought them together. The style is impressionist, or even post impressionist, and the influence of Scotland mixed with the growing influence of the far-east and the French realists can be seen in a selection of their work to a greater or lesser degree.

Perhaps the two best known are Guthrie and Arthur Melville, who could be said to be the driving force behind the boys, and their styles work well together, when compared and contrasted, to give an idea of the influences at work on the Glasgow Boys. Below are two examples. The one on top is Melville’s An Arab Interior (1881) and below is Guthrie’s fantastic portrait Old Willie (1886)

These paintings may seem hugely different in terms of subject, style and technique but when you begin to see the bigger picture, so to speak, then this breadth of influence begins to make sense and you can see not only what makes all of the Glasgow Boys great individual painters, but also why they were thought of as a group. There is a shared aesthetic, one of peace and place, which can be found in all their work. Below are just a few examples to give you a taste of what to expect and hopefully tempt you along to the Kelvingrove for what should be one of the best exhibitions of the year.

In order these are E.A Hornel’s Druids Bringing the Mistletoe (1890), George Henry’s Through the Woods (1891), one of John Lavery’s later paintings The Red Rose (1926) and Joseph Crawhall’s A Sangar in Morocco (1888)


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