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People > Scottish Artists > James Guthrie

Notable Scots: Artists

James Guthrie (1859-1930):

A Hindís Daughter
A Hindís Daughter

Guthrie, born in Greenock, entered the University of Glasgow to study law, but he abandoned his course of study in 1877 to take up painting instead. He was influenced by the French realism of Jules Bastien-Lepage and associated with the "Glasgow Boys," another group of the Glasgow School.

Guthrie lived much of his adult life in Cockburnspath, Berwickshire, where he painted some of his most important works, including A Hind's Daughter and A Highland Funeral. His style reflected the philosophies of Scottish realism, a 19th century movement which attempted to overcome the epistemological, metaphysical, and moral fallacies of the Enlightenment (cemented in Scotland by David Hume) by using "common sense". In this employment, common sense means being able to know reality directly; Hume's skepticism, in contrast, asserted that one can know only an idea of reality, not actual reality.

In his own time, Guthrie was known for his portraiture. He was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1888 and became its president in 1902. The following year he was knighted for his contributions to the arts.

A Highland Funeral
A Highland Funeral
Arthur James Balfour
Arthur James Balfour
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