Cultured Wednesday: McIntosh Patrick’s Road in a Spring Landscape

To celebrate the vernal equinox, we chose a spring painting by a 20th century Scottish painter.

Happy Spring Equinox, everyone!

Spring is upon us, finally.  Today, the sun will rise exactly in the east, and set exactly in the west.  Therefore, if you have a sun dial, you might want to adjust it today.

Not only will the sun pass the celestial equator from the south into the north today, but we also have the first full moon of spring!  It’s the Worm Moon, and another supermoon since it is only one day after the moon’s perigee, in other words, yesterday the moon was closest to the earth in its orbit around us, and tonight it will still appear bigger than usually, and just about completely round to boot.  In case you are wondering:  The vernal equinox and a full moon only fall on the same day about four times in a century.  The last time this happened was on 20 March 2000, so it seems we have 2 down, 2 to go in this century.

To celebrate the occasion, we chose a spring painting by a 20th century Scottish painter, James McIntosh Patrick:  Road in a Spring Landscape.

McIntosh Patrick spring
James McIntosh Patrick, Road in a Spring Landscape.

What I love about this painting is that it shows the beginning of spring like we have it here:  The birds are back already, the sun is shining and there is a tint of green to the grass, but otherwise, the trees are still bare.  You know by the promising light that spring is on its way, but you are still waiting for leaves, blossoms and spring flowers.  I find all this wonderfully captured in McIntosh Patrick’s painting.

James McIntosh Patrick (1907 – 1998) was a Scottish painter, celebrated for his finely observed paintings of the Angus landscape, Scotland.  Three features typical for this painter’s work can be observed in the painting we chose:  Firstly, he is known mainly for his paintings of cultivated landscapes in the Scottish countryside.  Secondly, his landscapes are often very wide in scope yet meticulously detailed.  Lastly, he frequently make use of lanes, roads, waterways or other features leading from foreground to middle distance or beyond to draw the viewer into the picture.

If you follow the link above, you will find a rather detailed bio and some more paintings for your perusal.




Cultured Wednesday: Jacob More

Jacob More’s special quality was a strong sense of formal design that he combined with nature observations. 

Jacob More was a Scottish landscape painter who started out painting stage scenery at the New Theater in his hometown Edinburgh.  It appears as though his special quality was a strong sense of formal design, maybe acquired while he worked for the theater, that he combined with nature observations.

the eruption of mt vesuvius
The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius

Jacob More was born in Edinburg in 1740, but lived most of his adult life in Italy, from around 1773 until his death on 1 October 1793.  While he was living in Rome and only 4 years before his death, a then relatively young Johann Wolfgang von Goethe visited him, acclaiming More’s paintings as being ‘admirably thought out’.  How can a painter to whom formal style matters and who manages to incorporate it into his landscape compositions fail to please Goethe, himself very keenly aware of formal design, and how nature keeps falling back on it?

What Goethe was looking for in his own nature studies, and suggested others should look for rather than amassing disconnected data about the natural world, were the ideas, maybe even archetypes behind specific natural phenomena like the spiral tendency, for example.  In order to find such natural and lawful ideas in nature, one needed to immerse oneself in a living interaction with a natural phenomenon, with all available senses.  Looking at Jacob More’s paintings might very well have told Goethe that here, he had met a kindred soul.

If you are interested in Goethe’s approach, the Wiki entry about Goethian Science might provide a quick glance into his ideas, and what came of them.  When I read Goethe’s nature studies back in the day, I found them fascinating and rewarding.

jacob more

Back to Jacob More:  His most famous painting is probably The Falls of Clyde (Corra Linn) from his Clyde Falls series that was exhibited in London in 1771, and which the founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, Sir Joshua Reynolds, himself a portrait painter, bought in that same year:

Cora Lynn
Corra Linn, from the Clyde Falls series (around 1771)

One last painting I would like to share today.  It shows Roman Ruins, and appears to be a sketch more than a painting.  Can you see the formal design spoken of above?

Roman Ruins by Jacob More circa 1740-1793
Roman Ruins

Featured is a slightly cropped version of More’s “The Eruption of Etna”.

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