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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning Sculptures, Landscapes and Portraits!, 20 May 2004
This review is from: Scottish Art (World of Art) (Paperback)
As a person of Scottish heritage, I must admit the title drew me in initially. So I glanced at the reproductions in the book, and quickly saw that there was much high quality Scottish art that I had not yet seen. I was then pleasantly surprised to see that the book was an overview of Scottish art from the Neolithic period to the present.
Scotland was influenced by many cultures, starting with its Celtic roots, while adding Roman, French, Viking, and Dutch flavors. The Celtic designs continue to show themselves over the centuries, even currently. The other influences show up in magnificent landscapes and robust portraits.
Thus, the viewer will be struck by several qualities of Scottish art. First, the art will remind you of other outstanding art you have seen in other countries. Second, the art is also more vigorous and emotional than its counterparts elsewhere. Third, the variety and quality of expression are remarkable coming from such a small land.
If you are like me, you are just starting to learn about Scottish art. Let me commend to you the standing stones at Calanais on the Isle of Lewis for the Scottish version of Stonehenge as well as the cup and ring marked rock at Achnabreck from the earliest periods of Scottish art. The portraits of Allan Ramsay in the mid 18th century show a mastery of the medium that is quite admirable, which are complimented by the portraits of Henry Raeburn at the end of the century. John Knox and Horatio McCulloch produced magnificant landscapes in the early 19th century that evoke the feeling of the Hudson River School in the United States.
I much admired the portraits of Robert Scott Lauder in the mid-19th century, as well. William McTaggart's The Coming of St. Columba beautifully combines Christian and natural themes in 1895. James Guthrie's The Hind's Daughter is an eloquent exploration of rural life.
Modern styles are exquisitely portrayed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife, Margaret Macdonald, through Art Nouveau. J.D. Ferguson presents wonderfully Fauve-like works filled with color and vigor.
I was pleased to see that women artists were well represented. I especially admired Cecile Walton's Romance from 1920 in which she plays with the theme of Olympia by showing herself partially undraped in bed holding an infant. The colors and compositions of Dorothy Johnstone were also appealing. William Crozier also produced wonderfully cubist landscapes. The abstract Mauve Landscape by W.G. Gillies shows the kind of gifted movement towards abstraction apparent in the early works of Miro. Eduardo Paolozzi's sculptures of the 1950s could also have just as easily been done by Picasso or Miro. The abstract works of Callum Innes and Jack Knox could just as easily have come from the New York School. Jake Harvey's Hugh MacDiarmid Memorial from 1982-84 is a wonderful overview sculpture piece, capturing a sense of all of the strains of Scottish art. I heartily commend it to you.
Professor Macdonald has done a wonderful job with this book. The only complaints I have about the book are that the type is very tiny and there are fewer color plates than I would have liked. However, encouraged by my art historian son who just visited Scotland and raved about the art, I'm sure I can overcome that with a Scottish art tour. I can hardly wait!
Overcome your misconception that great art was only produced in certain countries as certain times. Lesser known works can often provide even greater enjoyment, particularly if you have a connection to them through your own tastes and heritage. Enjoy!
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 5 Mar 2010 08:47:19 GMT
No doubt Professor Mitchell is well intentioned but this review reads like a postcard to home. All you art critics out there - how about something with more gravitas?
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