The construction of cultural identity in the visual arts in Scotland, 1918-1945
This thesis examines the hitherto somewhat neglected subject of patronage of the arts in Scotland during the twentieth century. The introduction briefly discusses existing scholarly works dealing with this subject, pointing out that the role of Scottish myths in influencing Scottish culture merits careful and detailed attention. Chapter One looks at how Scottish artistic myths in twentieth century Scottish culture can be traced back as far as the eighteenth century. The nature and evolution of these myths are examined to show why they have had a direct impact in the creation of a distorted view of what exactly constitutes Scottish culture in the twentieth century. Chapter Two explores the changing social structure of Scottish society after the First World War and how this was reflected in a search for a sense of stability and nostalgia for a pre-war era. The activities of the Scottish Modern Arts Association are assessed within this ideological framework. The chapter also highlights the influence of the Post-Impressionist Exhibition in 1910 on Scottish patronage. Economic and political trends are examined in this context as bearing directly on trends of patronage. Chapter Three examines the contention that the public equation of contemporary art with communism and nationalistic tendencies coloured the acceptance of modern art in the interwar years. Changes of taste during the inter-war period can be seen in a number of representative sales held at Dowell's Auction Rooms, Edinburgh. This chapter also analyses the collection and philanthropic intentions of a Perthshire businessman, Robert Borough, as continuing a pre-war aesthetic in the 1920's. Similarly the activities of the Scottish Modern Arts Association in the 1920's and 1930's are analysed in this light. Patronage of the arts in England during this period is examined briefly in order to provide a comparison with what was going on in Scotland at this time. This chapter also analyses the influence of the Society of Scottish Artists Exhibitions of 1931 and 1934. Chapter Four explores the cultural impact of the artists connected with the Scottish Renaissance Movement in the 1920's and 1930's. The patronage of an emigre American businessman James Whyte is examined within an analysis of the public reception of his political activities.