Award-winning Lanarkshire museum stages stunning collection of Glasgow Boys paintings

The exhibition of work by leading members of the 19th century Glasgow Boys school of artists will open on Fridayat Biggar & Upper Clydesdale Museum in Lanarkshire.

The museum’s trustees believe the ten paintings on show by influential artists including Edward Atkinson Hornel, George Henry and Joseph Crawhall will help it rebuild visitor numbers after the disruption caused by the Covid pandemic.

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The exhibition, which also includes paintings by Edward Arthur Walton, Thomas Millie Dow and John Lavery, will run until September 25.

The works are being loaned from one of the country’s finest art collections, the dazzling array of paintings managed by cultural charity OnFife.

OnFife Curator Jane Freel said the charity wanted to make its collection widely accessible. She added: “With such a large collection, we can’t display everything in our museums and galleries, so it’s fantastic to be able to loan paintings to another museum so they can be seen by a wider audience.”

Trustees say they hope the exhibition will attract visitors to Biggar and widen the museum’s appeal.

Elaine Edwards, the museum’s manager and curator, said: “It has been wonderful collaborating with OnFife to secure the loan. It is a very exciting time for the museum and we are thrilled to be able to bring these truly stunning pieces of artwork to Biggar for all to enjoy.”

Joseph E Crawhall’s painting, ‘Swans’, will be on display in Biggar Pic: Fife Council

Also included in the exhibition will be paintings by the Scottish artist EA Taylor, who was greatly influenced by the work of the Glasgow Boys and was a close friend of Hornel.

Taylor and his wife, the illustrator Jessie M King, were regular visitors to Biggar, where King painted a frieze in the former primary school and decorated many of the town’s shops.

The purpose-built museum has been widely praised since its opening in 2015, when artifacts housed in aging buildings scattered throughout the town were brought under one roof.

Opened by The Princess Royal and 5-star rated by VisitScotland, the museum is fitted with high-spec lighting, CCTV and humidity controls so it can house items loaned from leading collections.

‘Repose’ by David Gauld features in the exhibition Pic: Fife Council

OnFife manages cultural services on behalf of Fife Council and is responsible for more than 100,000 artefacts of local, national and international significance, which includes around 2000 works of art.

The charity has more than 40 paintings by the Glasgow Boys in its collection.

Works on show in Biggar will include two pastoral scenes by EA Hornel, “Gathering Spring Flowers” and “Landscape with Girl and Sheep”, and two works by Edward Arthur Walton, “The Gates of Galloway” and “The White Flower”.

Also included are two paintings with a North African theme – “My House in Morocco” by John Lavery and “A Spring Day, Morocco” by Thomas Millie Dow.

‘My House in Morocco’ where John Lavery would invite fellow artists to paint in the country’s unique light Pic: Fife Council

There are also two oil paintings by Joseph Crawhall — “Swans” and “Yoke of Oxen”. Completing the line-up are “Repose” by David Gauld and “Lady with Goldfish” by George Henry.

The Glasgow School was a circle of influential artists and designers who began to emerge in the city in the 1870s, and flourished from the 1890s to sometime around 1910.

George Henry’s widely admired ‘Lady with Goldfish’ will be displayed with other Glasgow Boys’ work Pic: Fife Council
Edward Walton painted ‘The Gates of Galloway’ while living in Kirkcudbrightshire. His work by him will be on display in Biggar Pic: Fife Council

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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