Posted by: christinelaennec | December 14, 2010

“Consider the Lilies” at the McManus Galleries, Dundee

I very much enjoyed my visit to the McManus Galleries in Dundee last Friday, where I saw an exhibit of 20th-century Scottish painting called “Consider the Lilies:  A Second Look”.  I’d been wanting to go to the McManus for a long time, but it was closed for several years for refurbishment.  It was certainly worth the wait.  The building itself is lovely:

The McManus Galleries, Dundee, December 2010. Someone has kindly provided Rabbie Burns' statue with a hand-knitted scarf!

The inside has been sympathetically restored.  You can see the window commemorating Mary Slessor (which I wrote a bit about here) in the coffee shop.  Heading upstairs, the neo-Gothic Victorian interior was the perfect setting for a Christmas tree:

Christmas tree at the McManus Galleries, Dundee. December 2010.

For a wonder, when I asked about taking photographs to post on my blog, I was told I was allowed to take them, as long as the flash was off!  The lighting was so good that I think they turned out pretty well.  The McManus have a superb collection of Victorian paintings, but I want to show you a few from the “Consider the Lilies:  A Second Look” exhibition, which celebrates the Galleries’ holdings of Scottish art between 1910 and 1980.  Below are three small paintings:  on the left, “Roses and Fan, ca. 1930” by Samuel John Peploe, on the top right “Joan, 1916” by John Duncan Fergusson, and on the bottom right, “Portrait of May (Mary Boyd), 1923” by John Quinton Pringle.

On left, "Roses and Fan, ca. 1930" by Samuel John Peploe. On top right, "Joan, 1916" by John Duncan Fergusson. On top left, "Portrait of May (Mary Boyd), 1923" by John Quinton Pringle. McManus Galleries, Dundee, December 2010.

Peploe and Fergusson, along with Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell and George Leslie Hunter, are well known as the Scottish Colourists.  But I’d never heard of Pringle, who painted the red-haired May.  The exhibition notes about him are very interesting:  “Pringle owned an optical repair shop in Glasgow… Without great knowledge of Post-Impressionism, he arrived at [the pointillist] approach by applying his painstaking repairing skills to this painting.”

Cadell travelled to the island of Iona every summer, often along with Peploe.  One of my favourite paintings in the Aberdeen Art Gallery is one of Cadell’s views of Iona.  I was happy to see another one in Dundee:

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell, "Iona, 1920s". McManus Galleries, Dundee, December 2010.

I think these paintings capture so beautifully the colours of the Scottish islands.

Here is another painting by Fergusson, this time of Lasswade Parish Church:

"A Lowland Church, 1916" by John Duncan Fergusson

Fergusson spent quite a bit of time in France, and was drawn to the painting styles of the Post-Impressionists.  The influence of Cézanne was clear to me in looking at this painting, but the exhibition notes drew my attention to another influence:  “The rainbow colours in the clouds are reminiscent of the … Orphism of Robert Delaunay”.

The next two photos are of paintings framed with glass, and thus a bit harder to capture with the camera due to the perils of reflection.  This painting is the work of a “son of Aberdeen”:

"The Attic Bedroom, 1955" by Alberto Morrocco. McManus Galleries, Dundee, December 2010.

Morrocco (whose nephew Jack continues the painting tradition of his family) trained at Gray’s School of Art in Aberdeen, and taught for many years at Duncan of Jordanstone School of Art in Dundee.  The exhibition notes for this painting say that it reveals “an interest in the French artist Edouard Vuillard, whose work Morrocco is likely to have seen in … an exhibition … held during the Edinburgh International Festival in 1948”.

The last painting I want to show you was a lovely surprise for me.  On a day when I was in Dundee to meet a friend, I met a painting that was also like a friend.  This is a portrait by David Foggie of his wife:

"Portrait of the Artist's Wife, 1922" by David Foggie. McManus Galleries, Dundee, December 2010.

Now David Foggie is not one of the best-known Scottish painters to most people, but we are very fortunate to have seen many of his paintings over the years in the house of some dear friends who are descendants of his.  In fact, this lovely woman is the great-grandmother of the Dafter’s godmother (if you can follow that)!  The exhibition notes say:  “This sensitive portrait is of his wife, Margaret Anne Jack.  Their son Neil remembers ‘ … when first exhibited it was called The Revel Frock, as it was the costume my mother had worn to the Edinburgh College of Art Revels that year.'”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little stroll through “Consider the Lilies:  A Second Look” at the McManus.  The exhibition is on through August 2011, if you’re in or near Dundee.

My next post will be on Thursday, an interview with Leila Aboulela about her novel Lyrics Alley.



  1. How lovely! Thank you (and for the laughs over the scarf contribution).

    Love, S

  2. This was such a great post Christine. i am very fond of the work of the Colourists. Did the curator think Fergusson had influenced Delaunay or vice versa – I wonder?
    Thank you for taking us to see this. xx

  3. Thank you for this delightful post about a very interesting exhibition, Christine.

    I have long been a fan of the Scottish Colourists but Foggie and Morrocco are new to me and I am inspired to find out more.

  4. You take such lovely photographs, you must have a fantastic camera.
    Teuchter I hope you had a good time in Munich
    Fond wishes
    Heike x

  5. Very interesting! Tenuous connections abound as I read your posts: FL is descended from /related to Nathaniel Gow by a route I have not fully understood, and my aunty’s uncle was that very painterly Fergusson, and she once showed me a sketch book of birds he had given her – I sincerely hope her children understood its value when she died!

  6. Dear All,
    Thanks so much for all these interesting comments. There are so many amazing and interesting things in life – I think this even more often as I get older, and I thought it often enough as a child! When I was walking around this exhibition, I kept being struck by how international Scotland has been for many years: not only did Scottish artists travel widely, but they themselves were sometimes, as in Morrocco’s case, descended from people who had immigrated to Scotland.
    Jacqui, I think the notes were assuming that the influence was Delaunay’s on Fergusson – but it’s an interesting question!
    Heike, my camera isn’t fancy, just a point-and-shoot camera. Since I began this blog I’ve tried to do more than I used to with it. Sometimes I wish I had a better camera, but mostly I’m grateful that the camera is good enough, and does really take very good photos most of the time.
    Sarah, I’m glad you like the scarf on the statue!
    Roobeedoo, how lucky to have seen the sketch book of Fergusson, and yes I do hope it was properly valued. What did the birds look like? Were they Orphic?
    Teuchter, I’m so glad you enjoyed this wee “excursion” and are moved to find out more about Morrocco and Foggie!

    • Hi

      I thought you might like to see my blog

      • Hello Giles, thanks for the link to your blog. Lots of interesting things on there about Scottish art! I enjoyed your New Year’s post about Gàidhealtachd art, and look forward to following your posts.

  7. Christine,

    Nice to hear of other ex pats in scotland. I love David Foggie’s work: did you attend the 2004 exhibition? My husband is also a great grandchild of Margaret Jack and David. I really enjoyed this post.

    Sheila Averbuch — Stopwatch Gardener

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