The Edinburgh School

This group of 20th century artists were all connected with Edinburgh College of Art where they were friends and colleagues. Their work is characterized by a painterly technique and vibrant colours. The Edinburgh School describes a group of artists who all had a connection with Edinburgh in the mid 20thcentury. The group were friends and work colleagues, and although their painting varied in approach and subject matter, they shared a love of vibrant colour and a bold, painterly technique.

Broadly speaking, there was a divergence in Scottish art around the middle decades of the 20th century between those who used colour rather than line to structure their compositions, and those who favoured a more linear approach. In Edinburgh in the 1920’s a small group of artists came to the fore whose work lay in the former camp. Each had studied or spent time in France. The group included William Gillies, a prolific landscape and still life painter who found significance in the simple things around his home and the local countryside. He was friends with John Maxwell, who by contrast was a painter of the imagination and, unlike Gillies, was extremely self critical. Maxwell was drawn to artists such as Marc Chagall who inspired his dream-like oil and watercolour paintings.

redpath.jpgAnne Redpath Black and White Checks (more about this painting at Capital Collections)

Ill health prevented William MacTaggart from studying full time, but he spent periods in France and shared a studio with Gillies and another Edinburgh School artist William Crozier. Primarily a landscape painter, his work was highly emotive and used glowing colours applied in thick layers. The one woman in the School was Anne Redpath. She enjoyed a successful career following her return from France in 1934, and shared with other School members a liking for brilliant colour and an expressive technique.