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Title: The life and art of George Jamesone
Author: Thomson, Duncan
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1970
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The aims of this thesis have been to separate the real George Jamesone from the mass of picturesque but largely imaginary detail which has slowly attached itself to his name since his death: to compile a Catalogue of his works: and to trace the precedents and development of his art. In the Introduction the growth of Jamesone's reputation is followed from its beginnings in the laudatory verses of his contemporaries in Aberdeen, down to the pretentious and sentimental view of him that John Bulloch presents in the late 19th century. While Jamesone does have a historically interesting role to play in the development of a native tradition of British painting, his own unpretentious merits have been inflated by writers ranging through Walpole, the Earl of Buchan, Sir William Musgrave, Allan Cunningham and culminating in Bulloch. Although the legend waned to some extent thereafter, much of the traditional matter was repeated by J.M. Gray in the Dictionary of National Biography, and by Sir James Caw. No one, with the probable exception of David Laing, apparently bothered to look at contemporary records. Chapter II traces Jamesone's life in detail, solely on the basis of records, from his first known appearance in a written record in 1607; his date of birth can however be calculated to have been in the latter half of 1589 or first half of 1590. An attempt is made to see him in his social and historical context, tracing him through his apprenticeship with a decorative painter in Edinburgh, his establishment as a portrait painter in Aberdeen in 1620, and the gradual widening of his horizons. His personal prosperity and family life are also followed in some detail. After 1633, when he helped prepare the reception of Charles I in Edinburgh, he carried on many of his activities from that city. The patronage he received from Sir Colin Campbell looms large in his later years, at which time he had Michael Wright as an apprentice. Jamesone's life is seen to end with a falling off in both the quality and quantity of his work. Chapter III is a discussion of Jamesone's painting on the basis of the facts established in Chapter II, and on the Catalogue of his paintings. The work of two immigrant portrait painters in the period immediately prior to Jamesone, Adrian Vanson and Arnold Bronckorst, is examined, as well as the work of the decorative painters of Edinburgh and Aberdeen, to one of whom, John Anderson, Jamesone was apprenticed. Other isolated examples of portraiture of the period are discussed. During the early years of Jamesone's career it is felt that, besides the possible influence of Cornelius Johnson and Daniel Mytens, he was influenced rather more by a painter of Scottish sitters, active between 1622 and 1628 and perhaps based in London. This artist's work is disentangled from Jamesone's and an attempt made to define his oeuvre; his identity is also discussed. Jamesone's masterpieces of the 20s, the portraits of the Countess Marischal and Montrose are examined in detail in an attempt to define the unique qualities of Jamesone's best paintings. His tendency to often drop far below his best is also discussed. The work of an almost decorative type that he did for the Council of Edinburgh in 1622 is contrasted with the quite sophisticated portraiture of his most active years, 1626 and 1627. The possible motives behind his self-portraits of these years, and the extent to which he influenced, or was influenced by, Michael Wright, are looked at; as are likely reasons for the ineptitude of his two known portraits of the last year of his life, 1644. The first part of the thesis concludes with a series of all those known contemporary documents in which Jamesone's name appears. These documents are drawn on throughout the work. The Documents section also includes all those known references to Jamesons's wife, Isobel Tosche, his daughters Mary and Marjory, and his master, John Anderson. The second part of the thesis is a Catalogue of Jamesone's paintings arranged in chronological order, as far as this is possible. The basis, aims and methods of the Catalogue are described in the introduction to it. It has an Appendix of the works of the painter active between 1622 and 1628 mentioned above. The third part of the thesis is a series of plates illustrating Jamesone's work; and also a series of comparative illustrations, largely of items discussed in Chapter III.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available