John MacWhirter RA HRSA RI RE
Autumn in Strathspey
Size without frame: 16 1/2 x 12 1/2 inches
Size with frame: 26 1/4 x 22 1/4 inches
Born Slateford, Edinburgh March 27; died London Jan 28. Son of an Edinburgh paper manufacturer who was also an amateur draughtsman, botanist and geologist. At the age of 15 he absconded from his job in a bookshop in order to study art entering the trustees Academy, going later with George Chalmers, John Pettie and others to London. In 1855 he undertook the first of many visits to Austria, Germany, Italy and the Alps. Spent two summers in Norway making detailed sketches of wild flowers which came to the attention of Ruskin who wrote ‘I have never seen anything like it’. Some of these were subsequently purchased by Ruskin and bequeathed to the Ashmolean Museum while an album (1861) is in the NGS and a further study in Glasgow AG. After studying at the Trustees Academy under Robert Scott Lauder, he became more interested in broader atmospheric studies than in finely detailed work. Increasingly attracted to Scottish landscapes using strong colours and subordinating detail to the general effect, but in due course he developed a preoccupation with trees, especially silver birch, for which following his painting ‘The Three Graces‘ he became best known. Friend of William McTaggart and some of his freedom of technique shows the influence of this relationship. Published several books including The MacWhirter Sketch Book (1906), Landscape Painting in Watercolour (1907) and Sketches from Nature (1913). Armstrong considered that his ‘pictures breathe a sympathy with the subtlest forms and tenderest tints of nature which are scarcely to be seen elsewhere’.
Elected ARSA 1867, HRSA 1882, ARA 1879, RA 1893.