James McIntosh Patrick, OBE RSA ARE ROI (1907-1998)
James McIntosh Patrick established himself as an accomplished landscape artist early in his career, initially as an etcher and then as a painter. His carefully detailed, highly naturalistic scenes of the Scottish countryside, mainly that around his native Dundee, became highly popular with both collectors and the general public. James McIntosh Patrick was born at 9 Muirfield Crescent, Dundee, Angus, on 4 February 1907, the youngest of four children of the architect, Andrew Graham Patrick, and his wife, Helen (née Anderson). He began to draw seriously while he was attending the Morgan Academy and, at the age of 14, took up etching. Indeed, his skills were so advanced that, by the time that he arrived at Glasgow School of Art, in 1924, he was admitted immediately into the second year of the four-year course. Working under Maurice Grieffenhagen and Charles Murray, he proved a very successful student, winning many prizes and, in 1926, beginning to exhibit at the Royal Scottish Academy.
From the outset, Patrick focussed on producing detailed panoramic landscapes.
For instance, in the summer of 1927, he made a number of drawings on a visit to Provence, the first of regular trips to France and Italy (trips that would include further study in Paris). Inspired by his love of the Quattrocento, the drawings would provide the basis for his first published series of etchings. On his return to Glasgow, he began a year’s postgraduate diploma study, supported by a scholarship. Etchings based on the Scottish Highlands followed those of France.
Patrick’s etchings soon came to the attention of the London dealer and publisher, H C Dickins, who offered him an important contract for editions of prints, and issued them between 1928 and 1935. However, following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the print market collapsed, and Patrick needed to diversify. In turning to oil painting, he rehearsed the subjects of his etchings, as in Les Baux, Provence, his first exhibit at the Royal Academy, shown in 1928. He also produced occasional portraits. As an illustrator, he provided images of local landmarks for both postcards and periodicals, including the Dundee Courier, and designed posters for London Transport and railway companies. And, from 1930, for 30 years, he taught part-time at Dundee College of Art. Nevertheless, he retained a reputation as an etcher and, in 1932, was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers.
On 4 July 1933, Patrick married Janet (née Watterston). They would have two children: Andrew, who would join the Fine Art Society and became its managing director, and Anne, who would become a painter. The Fine Art Society became his dealer in 1934, and remained so for the rest of his life, regularly showing his Scottish landscapes. In his early phase, he produced the landscapes in the studio, often idealising the topography. His continuing success, including receipt of the RSA’s Guthrie Award in 1935, enabled him late in the decade to buy a Georgian house: The Shrubbery, 67 Magdalen Yard Road, Dundee.
In 1940, Patrick was called up for active service, and trained initially as a tank driver. Later, he served in the Camouflage Corps, in North Africa and Italy, and became a Captain. During the war he produced many watercolours which, in 1946, were exhibited with great success at the Fine Art Society. This experience, coupled with the visual stimulus of an exhibition of Van Gogh, held in Glasgow in 1948, led him to paint regularly en plein air, usually within a twenty-mile radius of his home. In that year, the Fine Art Society mounted a second solo show of his work, entitled ‘Scotland and Elsewhere: Recent Water-colours’. In 1949, he was elected both a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy. (He would be elected a full member of the RSA in 1957). A number of popular solo shows were held through his later career, at Dundee City Art Gallery in 1967, at the Fine Art Society in 1973, and again in Dundee in 1987 (the last of which toured to Aberdeen and Liverpool). Further exhibitions were held to celebrate his ninetieth birthday, in 1997, at both the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, in Edinburgh, and in Dundee. He also received honorary doctorates from the universities of Dundee (1973) and Abertay (1995), and fellowships from the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee (1987) and Glasgow School of Art (1994). He was created OBE in the 1997 new year honours list.
James McIntosh Patrick died at home, The Shrubbery, on 7 April 1998.
His work is represented in The Fleming Collection, and numerous public collections, including the British Museum; and Dundee Art Galleries and Museums, Perth & Kinross Council and the University of Dundee Fine Art Collections.
Further reading: Peyton Skipwith, ‘Patrick, James McIntosh (1907–1998)’, H C G Matthew and Brian Harrison (eds), Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, vol 43, pages 81-82