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James McIntosh Patrick.

September 5, 2022

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Wandering around the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool a while ago, I had forgotten this painting (below) ‘Springtime in Eskdale’ by James McIntosh Patrick, but soon got a sense of how comforting it was to come across it again. For me his work has strains of Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer and Pieter Bruegel all rolled into one. I love the perspective, use of colour and how James paints a tapestry of walls and fields that encourages our eyes to linger, explore and visually wander down those same lanes, that he painted back in 1935.

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James is regarded as one of the greatest Scottish painters of the 20th Century. Born in Dundee in February 1907, his work has enjoyed a long and distinguished career. His father and brother were both architects and it was no real surprise when he enrolled in the Glasgow School of Art in 1924.

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By 1927 he was selling etchings in London, and he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy whilst still studying.  He left the Glasgow School of Art in 1928 and had won many prizes for portraiture and landscapes, and the prestigious James McBey Prize for Etching.  The success of his paintings during the 1930s established his reputation, with many acquisitions made by public galleries and institutions.  Since then his work has been displayed regularly at major exhibitions. I love his use of light here depicting Dundee High School.

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In 1940, James McIntosh Patrick was called up into service with the Camouflage Corps, and was stationed in Africa during the Second World War.  Upon his return to civilian life, he concentrated on exhibiting in Scotland, especially at the Royal Scottish Academy, and in 1957 became a full Academician. He started painting outdoors and loved it, which changed his working methods from then on. His work is full of detail and rich textures.

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He captures the landscape around his hometown of Dundee so well. The light and shape of the hills and understands the movement of the land, it’s undulations and grassy patch-work fields.

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The light and colours here are beautiful. We can sense that mid afternoon sunshine and the feeling of the summer months approaching.

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Summer at last, but soon comes more wintery climes.

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Patrick loved to paint out of doors, believing that his landscapes could encourage people to appreciate nature: “I don’t suppose there is much sentimentality about my paintings, but I have a deep feeling that Nature is immensely dignified when you are out of doors. I am struck by the dignity of everything.”

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By the 1950’s he had perfected his style and technique in outdoor landscape painting and began recording his beloved Angus countryside on canvas, working in all seasons and all weather conditions.

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In the same way that Bruegel’s ‘Hunters in the Snow’ captures my attention in its use of space and the aspect of the landscape. The same happens for me in this last piece ‘Winter In Angus’ acquired by The Tate Gallery in the same year that it was painted, 1935, when James was just 28 years old. Stunning !

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The Courier newspaper announced that some of James early drawings had been rediscovered.

Long may his work be rediscovered, I’ve certainly enjoyed doing just that.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. tonyhannaford permalink
    September 5, 2022 10:14 am

    Beautiful work. Thanks for reminding me!

  2. Anna Davidson permalink
    September 5, 2022 11:41 am

    Thanks so much for posting them.I can see how you can relate them to Breugel …especially the ones in winter.Stunning colours.A wonderful painter who is largely forgotten in his native land.A retrospective is in order.Thanks again.

  3. Connie E. permalink
    September 5, 2022 12:05 pm

    What wonderful works. Thanks so much for this! I could get lost in it for hours.

  4. Deirdre O'Sullivan from Australia permalink
    September 5, 2022 2:02 pm

    I’m not familiar with his work, so thank you for revealing it to us. It’s a joyful discovery for me! I really love his sensitivity to light and shadow dancing upon the landscape. He has what Beatrix Potter called – ‘the seeing eye.’

  5. September 7, 2022 8:06 am

    What a treasure house of landscape painting, and a reminder of earlier more sustainable farming practices. I love the limited palette of the winter scenes winter that still have a richness about them. The summer and autumn scenes are so atmospheric, beautiful work.

  6. Lotte permalink
    September 7, 2022 9:23 am

    Being the philistine that I am, I ‘m not usually enamoured by landscape painting but these have such an energy and richness about them, I’m enthralled!! Thank you for filling yet another gap in my woefully inadequate education ;D

    • September 7, 2022 1:59 pm

      Most welcome Lotte and so pleased to be able to introduce James’s work to another enthusiast 👍

  7. Hilary Lambert permalink
    September 7, 2022 4:46 pm

    What an amazing artist-next time I go to Liverpool library (next door to Walker) I will pop in to have a close up view! Thanks for research on him 👍🏼

    • September 7, 2022 4:53 pm

      My Pleasure Hilary. Just sent you a message on Instagram as it happens : )

  8. Ailsa Jenkins permalink
    September 12, 2022 10:21 am

    Just catching up with myself and read this!
    Not come across his work before but his paintings most definitely worth a look.
    His pastoral landscapes reminded me of Stanley R Badmin.
    Searched the Art UK website and enjoyed even more pics.
    Thanks for sharing Craig. 😊

    • September 12, 2022 10:43 am

      Thanks Alisa, yes I’ve also covered Stanley Roy Badmin on my blog before, search in the box on the right to see more.

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