Robert Gemmell Hutchison

Robert Gemmell Hutchison R.B.A., R.O.I., R.S.A., R.S.W. (Scottish) 1860-1936
At Crail, watercolor, signed initials/inscribed l/l, 13.5″ x 9.75″ sight, 22″ x 17.5″ frame

At Crail, watercolor, signed initials/inscribed
Click to enlarge.
At Crail, watercolor, signed initials/inscribed, framed.
Click to enlarge.

Estimate: $750. NFS.

Please email an offer to purchase or a request for more information to

Painting and frame are in very good condition. Purchased about 1971 with the line/wash mount and frame seen here – condition of both have not changed; water damage to the bottom right of the mount and possibly a touch of foxing to the left of the tall chimney (this may be a spot of pigment the artist was content to leave). The label of the artist’s framer is affixed to the backing board.

A painting of a young girl was offered for sale by Fine Art Society, Edinburgh in the mid-70s priced for GBP 5,000. While admiring the painting with the curator of the gallery, I remarked that it was as good as Scottish Colorist paintings selling for GBP 10,000 at the time. Hutchison’s The Young Gardener, signed, oil on canvas, 18″ x 14″ sold for GBP 22,500 at Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh on 10th Jun 2021! It should be said, however, that Scottish Colorist paintings have sold for hundreds of thousand pounds! Perhaps Gemmell Hutchison paintings will never reach parity with the Colorists, but his work will continue to find buyers who appreciate fine art.

From the catalog of that sale – Lyon & Turnbull Sale Catalogue, 10th Jun 2021:

In his painting Robert Gemmel Hutchison strove for an essential truth: to capture a common humanity in his subjects. His charming compositions provide an insight into the late nineteenth and early twentieth-century taste for scenes of Scottish rural and domestic life. Dissatisfied with his apprenticeship as a seal engraver, the seventeen-year-old Hutchison secured a place at the Manufacturer’s School of Art in Edinburgh, where he studied under William McTaggart. Here, Hutchison cultivated an admiration for McTaggart that would endure for the rest of his life, and which in part inspired Hutchison’s loose painterly technique and interest in everyday rural life. Hutchison developed a successful artistic career – he exhibited regularly at the R.A. and R.S.A., and was elected to a number of prestigious institutions throughout the UK. He is remembered today as an important Scottish painter of the early twentieth century.

Hutchison’s painting is distinguished by its considered deployment of colour: while in certain areas paint is applied in a more meditative, studied and precise manner, in other areas the application comprises of dynamic and frenetic flicks of vibrant colour. His connections with British Impressionism are clear, particularly when his figures are situated outdoors, where he demonstrates a remarkable ability to convey an immersive atmosphere through his varied brushwork. Look, for example, to the warm rays that dapple the smock of The Young Gardener, which Hutchison has conjured with careful, spare touches of pale yellow paint. Despite being composed of yellow, green and blue strokes, the surrounding foliage appears fully-realised, and seems almost to rustle with life.

In On the Dunes, Holland and Dutch Coffee, Hutchison’s distinctive vision is applied to scenes of Dutch life. These are of particular interest given Hutchison’s enduring fascination with the Hague School. Hutchison visited Holland in 1905, and was profoundly inspired by the paintings he encountered there, which he felt captured the reality of daily rural life without idealisation or romanticisation.

He was particularly struck by the work of Jozef Israëls (1824-1911), who painted scenes from the lives of fishermen, peasants or children. Upon his return to Scotland, he committed to painting en plein air with a looser, lighter, more painterly approach. He eschewed the sorrow that permeated Israëls’ painting in favour of more optimistic compositions rendered in lighter, softer tones. The selection of Hutchison paintings on offer demonstrate his innate ability to compose impressionistic strokes of colour into scenes that feel at once intimate and poignant.

Also by this artist:

Cockenzie – Oil on panel
Waiting for Father – Watercolor
Between Us – Oil on canvas


Images often do not adequately represent quality or condition. Reflections off glass or varnished surfaces sometimes alter color and clarity. All listings are fully guaranteed to be as described, however, and may be returned for a full refund (for any reason) within 30 days of purchase.

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