The Glasgow Boys - paintings and artworks from the Glasgow school of artists at the Gracefield arts centre, Dumfries, Scotland
The Glasgow Boys

The Glasgow Boys, or the Glasgow School of artists, came into being when a group of young Glasgow-based artists came together to challenge the pre-eminence of Edinburgh and the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA), and what they saw as the tired genre and history painting of much of the Glasgow establishment, in the 1880s.
During this period Glasgow became the fourth largest city in Europe and celebrated this nascent heavy industrial prosperity in a new building phase which included the City Chambers and the Glasgow School of Art (GSA). Glasgow became internationally recognised in the period preceding the First World War as a centre for avant-garde movements in architecture, the decorative arts and painting. This was in large part due to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose works took Europe by storm. Mackintosh’s path had been, at least partly, lain by the Glasgow Boys.
The wealthy industrialists, merchants and publishers who lavished in the larger share of this wealth constructed palatial homes in the countryside surrounding Glasgow. A rising demand for artworks meant that money became increasingly available to support and encourage the art of the Glasgow Boys. Their fame spread across Europe, indeed across the Atlantic, and even Serge Diaghilev, creator of the Ballets Russes, took their work to St. Petersburg in 1897.
The school evolved in three distinctive movements. The first phase, led by James PATERSON and William York Macgregor tended toward social realism, often using urban workers as subject matter in a pointed move away from staid and stolid genre and history painting. The second phase which had a distinct decorative nature involved Edward Arthur WALTON and James Guthrie. The third phase was heralded by Sir John Lavery, William Kennedy, Thomas Millie Dow and Alexander Roche. The Glasgow School was loosely constituted with no official membership or annual exhibition, and there are even discrepancies as to who was actually a member.
Many of these Scottish artists had trained in Paris, the Académie Julian and the École des Beaux-Arts being prominent, and were influenced by the new ideas of social realism in art as expressed by the French artists Gustave Courbet and especially Jules Bastien-Lepage. A  commonality amonst the movement, however, was a love of the American artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler, who was somewhat of a hero figure to the Boys.
The Glasgow Boys revolutionised Scottish painting, influenced as they were by the French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists with their en plein air approach, as well as Japanese and Dutch art, bringing their fresh, realist views of the Scottish countryside and Scottish life.
By 1910 the great period of the School had passed, but their influence helped to shape the face of art in Scotland throughout the 20th century

Other members of this loose coalition of the Glasgow School included:

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