Sir James Guthrie

1859 - 1930

Painter. Born in Greenock, the son of a minister, Guthrie went to the University of Glasgow to read law, but gave up his studies in 1877 to become an artist. Largely self-taught, he was associated with the 'Glasgow Boys' who were influenced by the realism in French painting of the time. Guthrie became one of the most progressive of Scottish 19th century painters. He chose his subjects from everyday life, A Highland Funeral (1881) was widely regarded as a masterpiece and is today held by Glasgow Art Gallery.

After settling in Cockburnspath (Scottish Borders) in 1883, Guthrie produced his most influential paintings. Guthrie embraced the establishment, being the first of the 'Glasgow Boys' to be elected to the Royal Scottish Academy (1888). With this he gave up his progressive stance and a degree of conservatism crept into his work. He became President of the RSA in 1902, succeeding Sir George Reid (1841 - 1913), and used that position to bring about improvements in the facilities of the National Galleries of Scotland. In his later years Guthrie gained a reputation for fine portraiture.

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