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 Robert MacGregor  (1848 - 1922)

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Lived/Active: United Kingdom      Known for: figure, genre, landscape painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Robert MacGregor

United Kingdom

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figure, genre, landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Born in Bradford to a Dunfermline businessman who settled for a time in Yorkshire, Robert McGregor returned to Scotland at an early age, settling in Edinburgh. He attended the RSA Life Schools and first exhibited at the RSA in 1873. He was elected a member of the RSA in 1889. His work is exhibited at the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh City Collections and the public galleries of Glasgow, Dundee and Paisley. His work closely resembles his continental contemporaries rather than any Scottish work.

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Biography from Sotheby's London, New Bond Street:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

William McTaggart was the son of a crofter, born at Aros in Kintyre in 1835.  After studying in Edinburgh at the Trustee's Academy, McTaggart supported himself by painting portraits until financially secure enough to be able to turn his attention to painting landscapes and seascapes.  He became one of Scotland's most innovative painters, painting with a technique quite unlike anyone else at that time, with loose brushstrokes and bright color. 

Loving to paint out of doors, he painted small oil studies en plein air which were later worked up as larger compositions in the studio.  McTaggart's work was spontaneous and energetic and perfectly expresses the feeling of movements in the waters around rocks and the gentle breezes of summer winds. 

There was a shift in McTaggart's style of painting in the course of the late 1870s and early 1880s, away from a representation of the landscape or coast as a vehicle for such observations, towards something more abstract and concerned with poetic evocation of atmospheric and meteorological effects.  McTaggart's experiments with pure landscape subjects in the early 1880s are exemplified by a work entitled The Wave (Kirkaldy Museum and Art Gallery), a painting which explores the textures and harmonious colors of a beach scene in terms which may be regarded as akin to Impressionism but which omits all human elements.

According to McTaggart's biographer James Caw, his work titled The Sounding Sea was painted during a visit to Southend, Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland in 1888.  Whilst earlier visits to Kintyre had resulted in little more than watercolors, the sojourn of 1888 produced a series of important oils.  'All are reminiscent of the most exquisite weather, still and sunny but clear and fresh, tranquil and serene yet full of magical suggestion.  Never before, it seems to me, had he evoked such spiritual harmony and visual beauty from nature or given such exquisite and masterly pictorial expression to his conceptions.' (ibid Caw, p.124)

The second date on The Sounding Sea suggests that the artist made alterations or additions to the picture ten years later in 1899.  A smaller version of the same composition (formerly in the collection of Mr Graham Paton of Alloa) is similarly dated 1889 and 1897 whilst another reduced version is dated 1890 (formerly in the collection of Mr John Duncan Jr. of Edinburgh, probably the picture sold Christie's, 13 March 2005, lot 615 as The Toy Boat).

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