(b. 1859, Greenock, d. 1930, Rhu, Strathclyde)

The Morning Paper

Pastel on paper, 52 x 62 cm
Fine Art Society, London

In Scotland the 1880s saw a lively interest in open-air painting. The Glasgow School, numbering some thirty members, was of key importance. Foremost in the group were James Guthrie, his fellow Scot William MacTaggart and the Irish artist John Lavery. They agreed in their opposition to prevailing Victorian taste and the methods of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Guthrie's work brought the Glasgow School international recognition. A brief visit to Paris in 1882 left him with the lasting impact of Barbizon plein-air painting, which he would adapt to his own landscape art in the years ahead. In the mid-1880s, Guthrie entered a critical phase which resulted in his almost entirely abandoning landscapes and turning to portraits, interiors and genre work. The Morning Paper is one of the finest of his many portraits of middle-class women. Guthrie's pastel technique here and elsewhere seemed to him (as it did to Degas) the aptest means of expression, since it was quick and easy to use and thus ideally suited to recording impressions on the spot.

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