Scots who shook up Victorian art on show in London

Fri Dec 10, 2010 5:04am EST
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By Andrew Dobbie

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A group of talented and ambitious young artists join forces, determined to stir up the art establishment which they see as sentimental, stodgy and distant from reality.

A familiar story? Perhaps not.

The artists in question are not the French Impressionists, but an iconoclastic group that emerged in the Scottish city of Glasgow in the late 1870s to become the most daring and original painters in Britain at the time.

The Royal Academy of Arts is hosting the first major London exhibition for more than 40 years celebrating the achievements of the group, known as the Glasgow Boys.

More than 80 oils, watercolors and pastels by such artists as James Guthrie, George Henry, E.A. Hornel, John Lavery, Arthur Melville and James Paterson have been assembled from private and public collections.

When the group was formed, Glasgow was the second city of the British empire and known as the workshop of the world, its prosperity built on industry, commerce and finance.

Newly prosperous entrepreneurs and businessmen were attracted to new kinds of art and provided a financial springboard for the Glasgow Boys to plough their own furrow and shake up the visual arts in Britain and beyond.

They were a heterogeneous bunch, who at first sight seemed to have little in common. Despite the name they gave themselves, they did very little painting in the city itself, and some of them were not even Scottish.   Continued...