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The ‘Glasgow girls and boys’ come to Inverness Museum and Art Gallery

The team at High Life Highland’s Inverness Museum and Art Gallery (IMAG) is delighted to welcome an exhibition of paintings by the Glasgow Girls and Boys from the Fleming Collection which opens this weekend.

The generation known as The Glasgow Girls and Boys includes most radical Scottish painters of the late nineteenth century.  Leading lights were Joseph Crawhall (1861-1913), James Guthrie (1859-1930), Edward Walton (1860-1922), Flora Macdonald Reid (1860-1938?), James Paterson (1854-1932) and John Lavery (1856-1941).

They were a loose group of young artists that represented the beginnings of modernism in Scottish painting.  In the early 1880s they were united by a shared artistic rebellion against the high Victorian enthusiasm for theatrical Highland scenes and sentimental “story-pictures”.  Instead, they depicted the reality of contemporary rural life, strongly influenced in subject matter and technique by the documentary French painter, Jules Bastien-Lepage.  The graphic geometry of Japanese prints was also a potent influence.

A series of exhibitions in the 1890s brought the “Boys” national and international fame establishing their avant-garde credentials. The term ‘Glasgow Girls’ was invented by the ground-breaking curator Jude Burkhauser as the title for her breakthrough 1988 exhibition at Glasgow School of Art on ‘Women in the Art School 1880-1920.’  Her hijacking of the well-known ‘Glasgow Boys’ moniker was the only way she could turn the spotlight on the women artists and designers whose dazzling achievements had been forgotten.

The Glasgow Girls are represented in this exhibition by Flora Macdonald Reid, Annie French and Constance Walton and Katherine Cameron.

Together the “Boys” and “Girls” put Glasgow on the map to rival Edinburgh as a major centre for radical, innovative Scottish art.

Cathy Shankland, Visual Arts Curator at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery, said, ‘We are delighted to have these stunning paintings in Inverness for Highland people and visitors to the area to enjoy. Normally we have to travel to the Central Belt or further afield to see paintings like these and we are very grateful to the Fleming Collection for making them available to us.’

The Glasgow Girls and Boys is part of The Fleming Collection, which is owned by The Fleming-Wyfold Art Foundation, and considered the finest collection of Scottish art outside public institutions, comprising of over 600 works from the seventeenth century to the present day.

James Knox, director of the Fleming Collection says:

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to bring these dazzling paintings to Inverness, shining the spotlight on the radical group of brilliant young artists who in the 1880s and 90s transformed the depiction of both rural and city life. Their paintings never fail to bring joy and surprise at their radical edge and accomplished technique.”

The exhibition runs at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery from 29th April until 15th July 2023.