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Title: John Forbes White and George Reid : artists and patrons in north-east Scotland 1860-1920
Author: Melville, Jennifer
ISNI:       0000 0004 2751 8168
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2001
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John Forbes White's contribution to the history of Art in Scotland was, for the first seventy years after his death, mentioned only in passing by the main writers on Scottish art of the day. However, two of his daughters, Ina Mary Harrower and Dorothea Fyfe, both wrote articles on aspects of their father's collecting: Ina publishing "Private Picture Galleries, The Collection of John Forbes White" in Goodwords in 1896 (pp 813-819), John Forbes White (Edinburgh) in 1918 and in 1927, "Jozef lsraels and his Aberdeen Friend" for the Aberdeen University Review (pp 108-122). A noted art historian, Ina reflected her father's taste and collecting interests in her own writings, as with, for example, "Studies of Fruit by Courbet" Apollo (Vol. L No 296 1949 pp 95-98). Dorothea, with her co-author C.S. Minto, published John Forbes White, Miller, Collector, Photographer 1831-1904 (Edinburgh 1970). The only other writers who have examined White's contribution to art in any detail were Charles Carter, who as curator of Aberdeen Art Gallery, covered art and patronage in the North-East of Scotland in numerous articles and outlined White's contribution in "Art Patronage in Scotland: John Forbes White" published in the Scottish Art Review,(Vol VI, no 2, 1957, pp. 27-30). Frances Fowle, on completion of her PhD on Alexander Reid, also discussed White's tastes in "The Hague School and the Scots, A Taste for Dutch Pictures" (Apollo August 1991 pp 108-111). George Reid was still less favoured by critics after his death. With J.L. Caw championing James Guthrie and William MacTaggart, the innovative and influential aspects of Reid's art were obscured, reduced and even sometimes credited to others. W.D. McKay in The Scottish School of Painting (London 1906) had played down Reid's part in the introduction of Realism into Scotland and Agnes McKay in her monograph on Arthur Melville (Lee on Sea, 1951) went furthest of all in portraying Reid as the enemy of a younger, more innovative group of artists, who included the subject of her book. It was to be another thirty years before Dun can Macmillan would examine Reid, in Scottish Art 1460-1990 (Mainstream, 1990) as an important landscape painter, rather than, as had been the case before, as a reactionary president of the Royal Scottish Academy and an extremely dull, if talented, portrait painter. One year later John Morrison, having completed his PhD Rural Nostalgia: Painting in XIX Scotland c.1860-1880 (St Andrews 1989) wrote of Reid's important European contacts and of the vital relationship between White and Reid in "Sir George Reid in Holland, his work with G.A. Mollinger and Jozef Israels" (Jong Holland 1991 No 4 pp 10-19). Both the assets and the faults of Alexander Macdonald's collecting were examined by Charles Carter in "Alexander Macdonald 1837-1884 - Aberdeen Art Collector" (Scottish Art Review, Vol V, no 3, 1955, pp. 23-28) and again by Francina Irwin in an exhibition catalogue entitled Alexander Macdonald: From Mason to Maecenas in 1985. My main source of material has come from the uncatalogued archive of correspondence between George Reid, John Forbes White, Jozef Israels, George Paul Chalmers, David Artz, Gerrit Mollinger, Samuel Smiles and others, most of which is housed in Aberdeen Art Gallery. Reid's unpublished autobiography, transcribed by his wife Mia, (in the same archive) was also of great use, as was an unpublished but almost complete catalogue raisonne of Reid's work, compiled, probably by Percy Bate or Harry Townend c.1912. I have also made extensive use of the papers of James Pittendrigh Macgillivray which are held by The National Library of Scotland. The descendants of John Forbes White made the works and letters in their possession freely available to me. These included the correspondence between John Forbes White and William Stott of Oldham which is cited in Chapter 6. Elements of this thesis, and particularly sections 2,3, & 4 of Chapter 4, appeared in a revised form in "Art and Patronage in Aberdeen 1860-1920", a paper that I delivered at the Scottish Society of Art History's conference on Patronage, and which was published in The Journal of the Scottish Society for Art Historians (Volume 3 1998 pp 16-24). The sixth section of Chapter 5 appeared in a revised form, in An Album of Photographs compiled by Sir John Everett Millais PRA published in Studies in Photography (Edinburgh, 1997). The discussion of the influence of Ancient Greece and Classicism in the eighth section of Chapter 7 was included in a paper entitled John Forbes White, The Classical Tradition and Ideals In Art given at the conference on "The Role of Collections In The Scottish Cultural Tradition", which was held at Aberdeen University in 1998. The third section of Chapter 7 appeared in a revised form in Robert Brough (Aberdeen Art Gallery, 1995). Appendix A contains relevant excerpts from letters and text, on which much of my research was based whilst Appendix B lists the works of art owned by John Forbes White.
Supervisor: Hammer, Martin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Reid ; George ; Sir ; 1841-1913 ; White ; John Forbes ; 1831-1904 ; Art patronage