Thursday, 23 April 2015

"Under the Apple Tree" by Bessie MacNicol - the perfect painting for a perfect Spring day

What a gorious St. George's Day! Pink blossom everywhere, warm without being in the least oppressive, sun shining, streets full of nice people being nice - all was right with the world.

Then a handsome pigeon got itself trapped in our kitchen and, after pilfering some food,  did its level best to bash its tiny brain out against the two large, unopenable windows. My wife was quicker than me, wrapped it in a towel, and threw the stupid thing out into the garden. As we were tidying up, I spotted the above 1899 portrait by Glasgow artist, Bessie MacNicol, on the April page of the World of Charles Rennie Mackintosh poster next to the fridge - and remembered I'd meant to post it here earlier in the month. But this is definitely the right day for it.

Elizabeth reading, 1897, Bessie MacNicol
Bessie MacNicol - whom I'd never heard of - was the most important female Scottish artist of her day. She studied at the Glasgow School of Art and at one of the first Paris studios which allowed women to train alongside men. She set up her own studio back in Glasgow, married a gynaecologist turned painter, and died in childbirth in 1904, at the age of 34. Her husband remarried, but committed suicide inn 1908, when his second wife promptly sold their house and everything in it - including Bessie MacNicol's paintings and workbooks, which is apparently why details of her professional life are so skimpy.

I'll leave with some more of her pleasing paintings:

The Fur Coat 
A French Girl, 1895
A Girl of the Sixties, 1899
Self portrait, 1894
Goose Girl, 1898
No details
As it's YouTube's 10th birthday today (which I'll celebrate elsewhere), I'll end with a brief video featuring Bessie MacNicol's paintings:


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