John Pettie RA HRSA
Size without frame: 33x55 in
Exhibited RA 1867, No 322.
…a triumph of dramatic intensity and glowing colour. The picture has a grip and unity of conception that places it on a higher level.
Pettie was a painter of historical and literary subjects in oil, also illustrator. When sixteen years of age, began studying at the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh under Scott Lauder. There he met William McTaggart, who was to become a life-long friend, as well as Tom Graham and William Quiller Orchardson with whom he later shared a studio in London. His first picture, ‘The Prison Pet’, exhibited at the RSA in 1859 was purchased for £35 by the Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts in Scotland. Particularly attracted to illustrating scenes from Shakespeare and Sir Walter Scott. His interpretations of historical scenes were always dramatic and imaginative, sometimes theatrical. Excelled in costume pieces, producing figures of striking force even when using only grey washes. Particularly attracted to military episodes, the best known being ‘The Drumhead Court Martial’. His style was vigorous and in its richness of texture shows the influence of Van Dyck and Rubens. He was extremely generous, giving many of his paintings to friends, refusing any payment. He had a simple straightforward nature and was very hospitable.
Represented in the National Gallery, V&A, National Gallery of Scotland, Scottish National Portrait Gallery,