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The Glasgow Girls and Boys

From the Fleming Collection

Image: Fieldworkers, 1883 (oil on canvas) by Flora Macdonald Reid (1860-c.1940)
© The Fleming Collection

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” came from an essay in an exhibition catalogue for the Glasgow Boys written by William Buchanan in 1968.  The title was intended to demonstrate that these artists were the female equivalents of their male counterparts although they worked in different styles and techniques.  However, they were connected in through their shared experiences and support for each other.

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 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.

29 April – 15 July 2023
All Art Galleries


This activity is inspired by the Glasgow Girls and Boys paintings.  These artists represent the beginnings of modern Scottish painting in the early 1880s.  United by their disillusionment with the academic painting of the time, the Glasgow Girls and Boys began to paint contemporary rural subjects, working outdoors and painting directly in front of their subject.  Print out the three A4 sheets below to take part in this activity, either at home or while visiting the exhibition:

Viewfinder Activity Part 1
Viewfinder Activity Part 2

Colour Activity