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Introducing our Modern Masters Festival Edition

18 July 2022

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Every year, when the Festival comes to town, our reserved city is transformed by the drama, excitement and spectrum of talent throughout the arts and we embrace la dolce vita.

We have put together a Festival edition of our Modern Masters series to mark the occasion and the emphasis is on colour, dramatic narratives, the natural world and a broad sweep of artists past and present. When The Edinburgh International Festival was launched in 1947 as a means of uniting the international community through shared creativity and the healing power of the arts, The Scottish Gallery responded to this extraordinary new calendar event by creating a specific, Festival programme of exhibitions showcasing the finest artists of the day. Today, our programme still revolves and evolves around the Festival, despite the digital age and in spite of world events.

Our history of exhibiting artists, knowledge of art and Edinburgh has shaped and contributed to the arts and the wider art market in surprising ways – by giving lifelong support to artists and providing a bedrock of economic success in good times and bad, which is vital for confidence. Our dedication to the arts has endured for 180 years. In our Festival edition, which complements our contemporary programme, there are several artists who held Festival exhibitions with us, including John Bellany, Elizabeth Blackadder, Earl Haig, John Houston, Alexander Goudie and James Morrison.

The Edinburgh School is central to Scottish painting and its influence throughout Scotland is core to understanding our modern Scottish art history.

Dame Elizabeth Blackadder (1931–2021) is one of the greatest talents to have emerged from Edinburgh College of Art and is regarded as one of Britain’s finest painters. Included are examples of her varied still life paintings as we build towards a major celebration of her life and work in 2023.

John Bellany (1942–2013) is another former star graduate with an uncompromising vision and we are delighted to include three fine examples from the height of his career.

In the heart of this publication, we take a look the Edinburgh School and the classes of ’47 and ’51.

It is equally important to include artists who we think have been overlooked or more accurately, overshadowed by a particular era and are worthy of reappraisal. This includes Mardi Barrie, James Cumming, Jack Knox, Ellen Malcolm and Sylvia von Hartmann, the latter having had a successful 80th birthday exhibition with The Gallery earlier this year.

Finally, we have a triumph of a painting in Still Life with Fruit and Flowers by George Leslie Hunter and a classic head study of Margaret Morris by J. D. Fergusson, continuing our long association with the Scottish Colourists. We hope you enjoy our Modern Masters Festival Edition.

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