Page:Dictionary of National Biography, Second Supplement, volume 2.djvu/569

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MacWhirter
MacWhirter
549

and Dundee, and widened his reputation, although it did not spread beyond Scotland.

He died at his house, Dean Park, Broomieknowe, on 2 April 1910, and was buried in Newington cemetery, Edinburgh, three days later. He was married twice: (1) on 9 June 1863 to Mary Brolochan (d. 1884), daughter of Hugh Holmes, builder, Campbeltown; and (2) on 6 April 1886 to Marjory, eldest daughter of Joseph Henderson [q. v. Suppl. II]. Of the first marriage two sons and two daughters survived him, and of the second two sons and four daughters. Of several good portraits of him probably the best are by G. P. Chalmers (about 1870) and by himself (1892), both in the possession of Mrs. McTaggart, and by Henry W. Kerr, R.S.A. (1908), in the possession of his eldest son.

McTaggart's painting gradually gained in expressiveness and power. In his later work he subordinated the minor facts to the broader effects of reality, and expressed the inner spirit of nature rather than its merely visual appearances. This tendency revealed itself first in water-colour. Soon his oil pictures also expressed that sensitiveness to the sparkle and flicker of light and the brilliance and purity of colour, and that apprehension of the rhythmical movement and the emotional significance of nature, which were the essential qualities of his gift. Quite independently McTaggart anticipated the discoveries regarding light and movement commonly associated with the French impressionists, but, while he shared their intense interest in the appearances of reality, he combined with that an imaginative passion and a refined pictorial intention which transformed his work and made it art of a high creative order.

[Private information and personal knowledge; exhibition catalogues; R.S.A. Reports; Art Journal, April 1894; Good Words, November 1899; Studio, July 1909; introduction to catalogue of McTaggart exhibition, 1901; notes to Catalogue of Thirty-six Paintings by William McTaggart, R.S.A., 1907; J. L. Caw, Scottish Painting, Past and Present, pt. ii. chap. iv. 1908; E. Pinnington, G. P. Chalmers and the Art of his Time, 1896; Martin Hardie, John Pettie, R.A., 1908; Manchester Guardian, 4 April 1910.]

J. L. C.


MACWHIRTER, JOHN (1839–1911), landscape painter, was born at Slateford, near Edinburgh, on 27 March 1839. His father, George MacWliirter, a descendant of an old Ayrshire family, was a paper manufacturer at Colinton, but had achieved some distinction as a draughtsman, geologist and botanist. His mother, Agnes Laing, was George MacWhirter's second wife, and sister of Major Alexander Gordon Laing [q. v.], the African explorer. John was the fourth of six children (two daughters and four sons). His sister, Agnes MacWhirter (1833–1882), was a still-life painter of considerable repute. He was sent to school at Colinton, but his father dying when the boy was eleven, he was apprenticed at the ago of thirteen to Oliver & Boyd, booksellers at Edinburgh. He left his employment after five months and entered the Trustees' Academy, then conducted by Robert Scott Lauder [q. v.]. Of his fellow students William McTaggart [q. V. Suppl. II], John Pettie [q. v. Suppl. I], William Quiller Orchardson [q. v. Suppl. II], and Tom Graham [q. v. Suppl. II] became lifelong friends. Apart from the excellent training of his masters, MacWhirter devoted himself from the first to outdoor sketching and direct study of nature, and made such rapid progress that as early as 1854 one of his pictures, 'Old Cottage at Braid,' was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy.

In the next year he undertook the first of what proved to be annual journeys to the Continent, visiting on this occasion some of the old cities of Germany, Tyrol, and the Salzkammergut. A picture of Lake Gosan, which was a fruit of this journey, was bought by the Royal Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland. In the course of his many travels MacWhirter visited Italy, Sicily, Switzerland, Austria, Turkey, Norway, and the United States, ever in search of material for his busy brush. In 1867 he exhibited at Edinburgh six pictures of Rome and the Campagna and was elected associate of the Royal Scottish Academy. Two years earlier he had made his first appearance at the Royal Academy of London, with 'The Temple of Vesta.' This was followed in 1868 by 'Old Edinburgh: Night.' In 1869 the artist moved to London, and remained there for the rest of his life. In 1879 he was elected A.R.A.; in 1882 he became hon. R.S.A.; and in 1893 he was made R.A. In 1901 he published a book on 'Landscape Painting in Water-Colours.' He died at 1 Abbey Road, St. John's Wood, on 28 Jan. 1911, and was buried at Golder's Green. MacWhirter married in 1872 Katherine, daughter of Prof. Menzies of Edinburgh University. He had two sons and two daughters,