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‘What an artist. They’ll be talking about him in a hundred years’ time’

Dr Bendor Grosvenor, TV Presenter ‘Britain’s Lost Masterpieces’


Bringing together over 100 works tracing Howson’s career from his student days to the present, the exhibition has been assembled from public and private collections spanning the UK and Europe. Many of the works, privately commissioned from the artist, have never been seen in public. Included in the exhibition is Howson’s first self-portrait since 2008, painted at his Glasgow studio earlier this year in honour of the retrospective.

Spanning four floors, the exhibition includes Howson’s early work, dominated by depictions of working-class Glasgow men – dossers, boxers, bodybuilders. The huge Heroic Dosser from the National Galleries of Scotland is a key painting from this period and hangs alongside images of army life and nightclubs. In 1993 Peter was appointed Official War Artist in Bosnia by the Imperial War Museum, sponsored by The Times, and a section of the exhibition is devoted to this traumatic and harrowing experience.

The upper floors of the exhibition explore Howson’s more recent work. While in the depths of despair and his life at a very low ebb, Peter reached out to God. It was a life-changing moment. Many of the works exhibited on the second-floor gallery are inspired by his ongoing faith journey, including his Stations of the Cross series and numerous paintings never seen in public.


Howson continues to respond to contemporary events in his own unique way. The Covid 19 Pandemic and the ongoing war in Ukraine are themes he explores in his recent paintings and works on paper. The top floor of the exhibition includes seminal major works from the last decade, such as Prophecy and Babylon, as well as a new series of apocalyptic ink paintings, crammed with fearsome beasts and grotesque figures.

The City Art Centre’s Curatorial and Conservation Manager, David Patterson has been planning the exhibition since 2019, working closely with the artist and Flowers Gallery in London.

A book Peter Howson: A Retrospective accompanies the exhibition, published by Sansom and Co.

‘…an outstanding exploration of humanity…’ Edie Stark, BBC Radio Scotland

‘(his) wild paintings suggest that for him religion is a ferocious and terrifying experience’. ★★★★ Duncan Macmillan, The Scotsman    

‘..stunning Peter Howson exhibition at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre. Well worth a visit...’ Sir Ian Rankin

Events programme

Friday 22 September, 2pm - The Art of Peter Howson: Cross or Glory? Gallery Tour 
Thursday 28 September, 2pm - The Vigorous Imagination”- The Return of the Figure in Scottish Painting 
Friday 29 September, 2pm - Peter Howson - The Formative Years 
Friday 29 September, 7pm - Special Documentary Screening of 'Prophecy' and Q&A Session with Peter Howson


Saturday 30 September, 10.30am - 3.30pm - The Magic of Touch 

Saturday 2 September, 7pm - Digital BSL Tour of ‘When the Apple Ripens: Peter Howson at 65 - A Retrospective’

Peter Howson Described Tour V2

BSL tour for Peter Howson

When the Apple Ripens: Peter Howson at 65

Peter Howson using a brush to paint an oil canvas

Special Documentary Screening of 'Prophecy' and Q&A Session with Peter Howson

Friday 29 September 2023, 7:00pm As we approach the end of our highly-acclaimed exhibition, When the Apple Ripens: Peter Howson at 65, join us for an exclusive screening of the...

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