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An introduction to Scottish Art and Scottish artists

Scotland has a long and distinctive tradition of visual art. This covers an extensive period ranging from ancient neolithic pict symbols and later celtic Christian art of the 7th century to a thriving 21st century contemporary art market.

The 18th century saw the Scottish Enlightenment, a time of great intellectual and scientific discovery. Scotland's artists and architects took a leading role internationally. The painters Allan Ramsay, Gavin Hamilton, Henry Raeburn and David Allan were artists of significance from this time. The period also saw the creation of the Royal Scottish Academy of Art in 1826, an indication that there was an audience and a market to sustain a body of professional painters. There was a demand for Raeburn's portraits and the emergence of the romantic landscape art of artists such as David Wilkie.

Red Rag Gallery artists who have exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy of Art include: Margaretann Bennett, Emma Davis, Joe Hargan and Helen Wilson

Scottish Artist: Joe Hargan

The 19th century was a period of industrialisation and subsequent expansion in wealth. Toward the end of the century there was a fashion for Gothic Revival, Baronial style and Beaux-Arts eclecticism. In painting the figure of William McTaggart stands out from his generation of landscape and history painters for his development of a proto-impressionistic technique of loose brush-work. By the 1890s a school of artists emerged who were associated with the Glasgow School of Art (founded in 1845 as a government Design school) known as te Glasgow Boys.

At around the same time the group of female graduates of the Glasgow School of Art known as The Glasgow Girls also started to make their mark. Among them were sisters Frances and Margaret Macdonald, who are perhaps better remembered as the female members of The Four, which formed when they teamed up with Margaret's husband Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his colleague Herbert MacNair. What emerged became known internationally as the Glasgow Style and went on to become a key inspiration for Art Nouveau.

By 1914 Mackintosh had ceased to practice and with the outbreak of War the Scottish arts scene did not revive until the 1920s with the appearance of the Scottish Colourists. The Scottish Colourists were four Glasgow artists; Samuel John Peploe, Francis Boileau Caddell, George Leslie Hunter and John Duncan Fergusson who were working at the turn of the century and looked to the Post-Impressionist Movement in Paris for influence. They produced art work which showed a fascination with colour and form and have had a profound influence on contemporary Scottish art. Mary Batchelor , Frank Colclough , George Devlin , Archie Forrest and Jock MacInness are just a few of the Contemporary Scottish Artists influenced by the Scottish colourists.

Scottish Artist: Jock MacInnes

After the Second World War Scotland enjoyed a lively arts scene thanks in part to the attention generated by the Edinburgh festival. One of the most influential post war Scottish artists was Joan Eardly. Her influence has been far reaching and she is best known for paintings produced in the 1950's and early 1960's.

Scotland now has four major colleges of Art Education. Today's Scottish Art Schools are: Edinburgh College of Art, Glasgow School of Art, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, and Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen. Each places great emphasis on their art students being able to paint and draw with a high degree of skill and observation. In recent years there has been a renaissance of figurative painting in the art world as a whole and consequently Scottish artists are well placed to feature at the forefront of this revival.

Scottish Artist: Louis McNally

A number of international figures of post-war art from come from Scotland, including Eduardo Paolozzi and Ian Hamilton Finlay.

Steven Campbell was an example of a post-war Scottish artist mainly concerned with pictorial representation. He was labelled as one of the New Glasgow Boys or "Glasgow Pups" along with Peter Howson , Ken Currie and Adrian Wisniewski who studied together at the Glasgow School of Art. Other important contemporary Scottish artists include Elizabeth Blackadder, Douglas Gordon, Lucy McKenzie, Christopher Orr and Jack Vettriano all of whom have established careers. Today Contemporary Art is one of Scotland's most successful exports.

For further information about Scottish Art and Scottish Artists please contact the gallery

Red Rag Gallery Scottish art and Limited Edition Prints

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