Archive for May, 2010

Mrs William Urquhart – Sir Henry Raeburn 1815

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Mrs William Urquhart (Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums)

Henry Raeburn (1756-1823) was born in Stockbridge, a suburb of Edinburgh, the son of a manufacturer.  After being orphaned, he was placed in George Heriot’s Hospital, where he received an education and, at the age of sixteen, was apprenticed to the goldsmith James Gilliband.  He moved on from jewellery to portrait miniatures and, after some success, he taught himself to paint in oils.  His employer introduced him to David Martin, a portrait painter in Edinburgh, who loaned him portraits to copy.  Raeburn never attended an academy for art and was entirely self taught, which perhaps accounts for his highly personal style of painting.

 In 1815 he became a member of the Royal Academy and in 1822 he was knighted during a visit to Scotland by King George IV.  He went on to help form the Royal Scottish Academy and died on 8 July 1823 in Edinburgh.

Ann Pattison was the daughter of the town clerk of Leith. She married William Urquhart, a wealthy Glasgow merchant, towards the end of 1812 or the beginning of 1813, so this painting may have been commissioned by her husband. 

The painting ensures that all attention is focused on the youthful beauty of the sitter, who is thought to have been around 18 years of age, with no background distraction.  She turns her head slightly to the left so that the light captures her facial expression.  Raeburn has taken more care with her face and expression than with her clothing

Notice the matinee idol style of Raeburn’s portraiture – heroic stances and soft focus with self assured poses The portrait contains all the Raeburn hallmarks – pink faces, rich colours and strong confident brush strokes.  His figures are always bathed in light with a theatrical play of light over the face very reminiscent of Hollywood star photographs of the 30s and 40s.

Sir Henry Raeburn is considered to be the best ever Scottish portrait painter and the first Scottish painter to be knighted.

Note – To confirm you are looking at a Raeburn portrait check that there is a single dab of white highlight on the nose – this was his signature!

 See this portrait in Kelvingrove in the Scottish Identity art gallery in the East Wing on the 1st floor.

 For more information on gift voucher tours, twilight tours and Night at the Museum tours contact Intermezzo on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

The Orange Blind – Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Francis Caddell was one of the four Scottish Colourists (which also included Samuel Peploe, Duncan Fergusson and George Leslie Hunter), a group of artists who followed on from the Glasgow Boys.  They were influenced by French art and indeed all spent their early artistic careers in France.

 Cadell was the youngest of the Colourists and trained from the age of 16 at the Academie Julian in Paris.  He was heavily influenced by the work of the Glasgow Boys and by Whistler.  From 1909 Cadell had a studio in Edinburgh’s New Town from where he painted society portraits of well-to-do Edinburgh women.  He served in the army during World War One following which his work became tighter, more polished and he became more interested in colour.

 He used his own studio in Ainslie Place in Edinburgh as the setting for the Orange Blind which had black floors, mauve walls and an impressive chandelier.  The light of the winter afternoon sun illuminates the blind and the orange glow works strikingly against the jade green of the chaise longue.  The man playing the piano has his hands raised above the keys in the manner of a “rag-time” piece in keeping with the period and both the man and woman appear to be more decorative than real.

 Painted in 1925, he provided an unusual arrangement of space in the interior and deliberately used bright dazzling colours as focal points.  This painting is much loved and has been used by Glasgow Museums to promote the Gallery outside of Glasgow.

 View this painting In Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum on the Ground Floor, East Wing, Scottish Art Gallery.

 For private viewings, twilight and evening tours of Kelvingrove please contact us on 0141 636 6929 or at

Glasgow Boys Exhibition

Saturday, May 15th, 2010
Thomas Faed

Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Glasgow Boys – The Pioneering Painters 1880-1900

 This Exhibition shows how Scottish art moved away from the Victorian sentimental image of the mid-1800’s to a more realistic depiction of life in Scotland in the late Victorian period.  Prior to the emergence of the Glasgow Boys many paintings were “Brigadoon” depictions of Scotland with no basis in reality.  They were produced for an English middle-class market who wanted Scottish paintings to hang on their walls.  An artist called Thomas Faed was a master of these works and people would visit galleries in great numbers to view his latest painting.  You can see some of his paintings in Kelvingrove, including The Last of Clan. (above)

 The Glasgow Boys were a loose group of artists living and working in the West of Scotland who were influenced by the French artist Jules Bastien-Lepage.  One of Lepage’s works, The Beggar (1880) forms part of the exhibition, and was first shown in Glasgow in 1883.  They also challenged the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh which at that time insisted on an Edinburgh address for membership.

James Guthrie

Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

These two paintings (Thomas Faed’s Last of the Clan and James’ Guthrie’s Old Willie – the Village Worthy) display the difference in the artists’ portrayals of Scotland.

 The Exhibition contains some of the major works by the Glasgow Boys and gives an introduction to their work, looks at the areas they worked in (including Kirkcudbright, Cockburnspath and Brig o’Turk), their visits and influences from abroad (Grez-Sur-Loing in France and Japan) and their depictions of both rural and City life.

 The Glasgow Boys’ Exhibition runs until September at Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

 In conjunction with Visit Scotland’s Perfect Days Out, Intermezzo are offering a daytime tour of Kelvingrove which also includes a ticket to the Glasgow Boys Exhibition for £20. To book call us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at

The Young Girls – Mary Cassatt

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010
Mary Cassatt 1885

Image courtesy of Glasgow Museums

Mary Stevenson Cassatt (1844-1926) was an American painter and printmaker and one of the few female Impressionist artists. She lived much of her adult life in France, where she befriended Edgar Degas and later exhibited among the Impressionists.

 Her paintings depicted the social and private lives of women, with particular emphasis on the intimate bonds between mothers and children.  This was primarily because it was not considered proper for women to paint bars, theatres or street life.

 She was born in Pittsburgh to a wealthy family and moved to Philadelphia when she started school.  She studied art, against her family’s wishes, and moved to Paris in 1866 to continue her studies.  In 1877 she was invited by Edgar Degas to show her works with the Impressionists who already had one other female member, artist Berthe Morisot, who later became Cassatt’s friend and colleague.

 In 1886, Cassatt provided two paintings for the first Impressionist exhibition in the United States, organized by art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel. Her friend Louisine Elder married Harry Havemeyer in 1883, and with Cassatt as advisor, the couple began collecting the Impressionists on a grand scale. Much of their vast collection is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

 This painting called the Young Girls  was painted in 1885 and is of two unknown sitters, who may very well be sisters.  Cassatt has captured the spontaneous affection of the children and their upward gaze.  This is not a formal family portrait, but looks like a snapshot as if the children have just sat down after play.  Their faces are painted in detail but the hasty broad brushstrokes of the clothing and background serve to give the feeling of the natural impatience of the young sitters.

Windows in the West- Scotland’s Second Favourite Painting

Monday, May 3rd, 2010
Windows in the West

Windows in the West - Avril Paton - 1993

Windows in the West is one of Scotland’s favourite paintings and is very popular because it depicts tenement life in Glasgow.  On 11 January 1993 at 5.30 pm there was a very heavy snowstorm which left the area transformed and inspired Avril Paton to depict this wonderful scene. 

 The area is Saltoun Street in Glasgow’s West End and is viewed from Athole Gardens.  It took the artist almost six months to complete and she brilliantly captures the glowing interiors against the darkness outside and the bright whiteness of the snow.  Even the sky has the lilac-pink hue often seen after a snowstorm. 

 In the many flats people are going about their everyday lives and the real-life characters include the writer Bernard MacLaverty and the journalist Roddy Forsyth.  Children are playing, food is being prepared and people are arriving home. 

 Glasgow Museums purchased the painting in 1994 and also own another Avril Paton work, The Barras.  The artist lives and works in Arran.

 Windows in the West reached second place (Salvador Dali was first) in the Herald’s poll for Scotland’s favourite painting.  You can see it today in the Art Discovery Centre in the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.

 For Twilight, Evening and Gift Voucher tours please contact us on 0141 636 6929 or email us at