Lot 9: WILLIAM STEWART MACGEORGE R.S.A. (SCOTTISH 1861-1931) BLUE HAZE OF THE HYACINTH 71cm x 91cm (28in x 36in)
December 8, 2016
Edinburgh, United KingdomLive Auction
WILLIAM STEWART MACGEORGE R.S.A. (SCOTTISH 1861-1931)
BLUE HAZE OF THE HYACINTH
Signed, oil on canvas
71cm x 91cm (28in x 36in)
Re-lined - nothing shows U.V light - good degree of impasto/ brushwork - under natural light appears in largely good condition
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Note: Born in Castle Douglas in 1861, William Stewart MacGeorge began his artistic training at an early age, demonstrating an exceptional talent. He even became a prototype for a caricaturist character of Samuel R. Crockett''s The Raiders - the author was MacGeorge''s boyhood friend. In 1880 MacGeorge entered Edinburgh School of Art, where among his classmates were George Denholm, Thomas B. Blacklock and Edward A. Hornel, with whom MacGeorge established a firm and artistically significant friendship. During his years at the Edinburgh School MacGeorge won a number of artistic prizes, including a Queen''s Prize in the National competition and as early as the age of twenty he had his first work hung in the Royal Scottish Academy (A Lovers'' Walk, 1881).
In 1883 MacGeorge relocated to Antwerp together with William Walls and Edward Hornel, where the young artists enrolled at the Academie Royale des Beaux Arts - one of the oldest art academies in Europe, which at that time held an international reputation. There, for two years, MacGeorge was a student of Charles Verlat, from whom he acquired a strong basis of realism and academic training. His colour palette was also affected by contemporary Dutch and Flemish naturalist painting. During his time at the Academie MacGeorge produced some sombre works such as Rotterdam Windmill and Amsterdam Harbour (both in Haddington Council buildings). Upon his return from Belgium in 1885, MacGeorge enrolled at the R.S.A. Life School, where his prolific student career continued to flourish, bringing him the Keith Prize in 1887.
It is believed that MacGeorge''s predilection to gloomy colours - possibly the Hague School influence - was challenged by Edward Hornel, who encouraged MacGeorge to soften his tone, thus making his paintings much brighter, his brushstrokes more richly imparted, and his painting style considerably more decorative. However, MacGeorge always maintained a substantial level of individuality in his artistic approach, in particular, a truth to natural forms. His most prominent works transmit naturalistic atmosphere enhanced by vigorous brushwork and bright spots of colour. Although MacGeorge''s choice of subjects was extremely diverse, his signature setting is a woodland scene with children playing among the flowers. The present work, The Blue Haze of the Hyacinth, belongs to a large series of works depicting utopian idylls. Here the artist portrays three young ladies resting in a meadow filled with azure bursts of wild hyacinth. An example of MacGeorge''s colouristic approach, the work presents a vivid impression of a bright summer day, as well as the artist''s signature impasto brushwork.
In the mid-1880s MacGeorge began spending summer months in Kirkcudbright artists'' colony, where he resided in a studio near the old quarry on Tongland Road. Kirkcudbrightshire Fine Art Association was established in 1886, and local exhibitions were held each year. MacGeorge produced some of his most outstanding landscapes while in Kirkcudbright, including Kirkcudbright, depicting salmon fishers at dusk, now in the Edinburgh City Art Centre.
The night scene The Harbour Kirkcudbright offers a good example of MacGeorge''s fascination with darker colours, acquired in his younger years in Antwerp. Soft brushstrokes enhance the romantic feeling of a Scottish summer night, and the work is completed with MacGeorge''s typical spots of contrasting colour, in the luminous windows of the harbour building.