Art History with Anne

A series of Lectures for April/May 2022

Modern art comes to Scotland:

From the Glasgow Boys and to the Scottish Colourists 1880-1930

George Henry, Playmates, 1884.

In my last series of lectures, I considered the impact of Naturalism and en plein air painting on Scandinavian artists. Now coming closer to home, my next series of three inter-connected lectures concentrates on Scotland. This is not an easy story to tell for while the Glasgow Boys and Scottish Colourists were influenced by progressive French painting, the Glasgow Four, led by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, were not interested in en plein air painting or rural life. Rather they were integral to the emergence of European Symbolism in the 1890s. While the Boys and the Colourists could be deemed ‘followers’, the Four were leaders shaping the development of the Viennese Secession.

Glasgow Boys: Followers of Bastien-Lepage’s Naturalism

Wednesday 27th April at 11.00 am and repeated at 7pm

During the 1880s the city of Glasgow emerged as a major cultural centre rivalling the nation’s capital, Edinburgh.  New money and a determination to collect modern art provided great opportunities for a generation of up-and-coming artists.  Now known collectively as the Glasgow Boys this loose confederation of artists numbered James Guthrie, Edward Atkinson Hornel, George Henry, and the Irish Glasgow Boy, John Lavery.  Influenced by Japan, and contemporary French and Dutch painting, notably Jules Bastien-Lepage, these, artists brought a breath of fresh air to Glasgow.  They adopted en plein air painting, working from nature directly out of doors, and escaped to the countryside in search of rural life. They paved the way for the city’s renaissance during the 1890s, laying the foundations for the Glasgow school, led by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Four. 

Jules Bastien-Lepage, October Gathering Potatoes 1878
James Paterson, The Last Turning, Winter, Moniaive, 1885

‘The Spook School’: Mackintosh and the Glasgow Girls

Wednesday 4th May at 11.00 am and repeated at 7pm

The Four, who numbered Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s talented wife Margaret Macdonald and her sister, Francis MacDonald McNair, worked across different mediums: watercolours, gesso plaster panels and metalwork.  Nicknamed the Spook school, due to their elongated, ethereal human figures, symbolic meaning lay at the heart of their work. At the cutting edge, their influence in Europe was profound, forging a new design ethos that blended symbolism with decorative pattern.  Absorbing elements from Aubrey Beardsley and 1890s Decadence, their art has been labelled subversive and even, in the case of the girls, categorised as Feminist.   Whereas progressive French painters influenced the Glasgow Boys, the Four inspired their European contemporaries, especially Gustave Klimt.

Frances Macdonald McNair, Tis a Long Path which Wanders to Desire, after 1911
Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh, Seven Princesses, 1906

Scottish Colourists: Peploe, Ferguson, Hunter, and Cadell

Wednesday 11th May at 11.00 am and repeated at 7pm

The work of the Four seems but an interlude, when we come to the Scottish Colourists, who once again turned to French painters, notably Matisse, and the bright colours of the Fauve (Wilde Beast) painters. The Scottish Colourists, Samuel Peploe, John Duncan Ferguson, George Leslie Hunter, and Francis Cadell were a loose grouping.   They never issued a manifesto and they rarely painted together.  But when they exhibited as a group their debt to French painting became clear.   Even more than the Glasgow Boys, the Colourists were concerned with the art of painting and the impact of pure colour.  Their paintings are tactile, the paint thick and creamy. The subjects, landscape and still life, are easily understandable- there is no deep, hidden meaning, just a celebration of light and colour that all can appreciate.

Samuel Peploe, Tulips and Fruit, c. 1919.
John Duncan Ferguson, The Blue Hat, (Closerie des Lilas), 1909

The lectures will be delivered live by Zoom. They will be uploaded afterwards to my YouTube channel for a limited time and you will be provided with a private link to view them again at your leisure.
The lectures last for around an hour.  Lecture start times are in BST.
There will be a question-and-answer session at the end.
As the lectures will be delivered live by Zoom, you will be able to ask your questions in person at the end. You can also use the ‘Chat’ function.

I will be repeating each morning lecture in the evening of the same day for those people unable to make the morning slot. Both lectures (morning and evening) will be delivered live, and you will be able to ask questions in person at the end. 

The lectures are priced at £10 a session. You can book each lecture separately or all three £25 (one lecture half price!)
Please email Susan Branfield at
Please ask for ‘Morning Lecture’ or ‘Evening Lecture’ when you book your choice(s) as the sessions have different Zoom entry codes
You can pay by cheque or BACS (details will be supplied). Cheques should be made payable to Anne Anderson.
Once you register and pay, you will be sent a separate email with your link. You will need this link to access the lecture on the day so please do not delete it. 
After the lecture you will be sent another private link so you can access the lecture on my YouTube Channel.

Or you can pay directly through Paypal

Glasgow Boys

one hour lecture


The Spook School

one hour lecture


Scottish Colourists

one hour lecture


Three one hour lectures

Glasgow Boys, The Spook School Scottish Colourists


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