John Blair

John Blair (Scottish) c. 1849 – 13 October 1934
The Old Book, watercolor, signed/dated 1917, 4.75″ x 3.25″ sight, 10.0″ x 8.25″ frame

The Old Book, watercolor, signed/dated 1917.
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The Old Book, watercolor, signed/dated 1917, framed.
Click to enlarge.

Estimate: $250. Offers invited.

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Excellent condition; original line/wash mount; original label signed by Blair is affixed to the replacement frame. That frame was added in the 1970s and has damage to two corners.

John Blair was born in the Berwickshire village of Hutton, in about 1849. His family background would not seem to have favoured his choice of career which was immensely successful as evidenced by an estate of £3418 4s 6d on his death in 1934 – a significant sum at the time. His father, Alexander, had been an agricultural labourer, “salmon fisher”, and gardener during his lifetime and John was one of five children living in Hutton and Coldstream (Scottish Borders).

During this period, Blair attended Sunnyside School at Milne Graden. His artistic talent was recognized and David Milne-Home arranged for him to train at the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh, where he studied under Charles Hodder. By 1871 he was living in Leith while studying.

His first exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy was in 1870 with paintings entitled NewhavenFawside Castle, Edinburgh; and Bait gatherers. He went on to exhibit some 83 paintings in the RSA Annual Exhibitions over the next fifty years.

He is also said to have exhibited at the Dudley Gallery (London), Glasgow Institute of Fine Art, Walker Art Gallery, Manchester City Art Gallery, Royal Hiberian Academy, The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the Berwick Arts Club. He was a member of the Society of Scottish Artists.

The Scotsman newspaper referred to “the silver medal, gained by Mr John Blair in the male school” as one of the 20 silver medals awarded that year across the 103 Government schools and in 1872 the Berwickshire News reported that Blair had been awarded both a gold and a silver medal: “…. The gold medal was awarded to John Blair, a native of Paxton, for the best shaded study of an antique figure, also a silver medal for a study in water colour.  This is the third silver medal taken by him, and the only instance in the Edinburgh School in which a student has carried off a gold and silver medal in the same year.”

After his marriage, John Blair lived in Morningside (a prestigious Edinburgh village) and his profession was stated as “landscape artist” and “Painter (artist)”. Failing health prevented him from exhibiting at the Royal Scottish Academy after 1920. He died, age 84, on 13 October 1934 at his Edinburgh home.

John Blair’s work can be seen in many museum collections as diverse as the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Museum of New Zealand.

The above biography is an excerpt from Wikipedia.

Also by this artist:

Sorting the nets, Watercolor
Image Credit: Scottish Flair Art Gallery
Lundin Links and Largo Law, 1910 – Watercolor
Crail Harbour – Watercolor
El lector, 1883 – Watercolor
Tabletop still life – Watercolor

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