George Reid (1841-1913)

Sir George Reid PPRSA (31 October 1841 – 9 February 1913) was a Scottish artist. Reid was born in Aberdeen in 1841. He developed an early passion for drawing, which led to his being apprenticed in 1854 for seven years to Messrs Keith & Gibb, lithographers in Aberdeen. In 1861 Reid took lessons from an itinerant portrait-painter, William Niddrie, who had been a pupil of James Giles, R.S.A., and afterwards entered as a student in the school of the Board of Trustees in Edinburgh. Reid returned to Aberdeen to paint landscapes and portraits for any trifling sum which his work could command. His first portrait to attract attention, from its fine quality, was that of George Macdonald, the poet and novelist, now the property of the University of Aberdeen. His early landscapes were conscientiously painted in the open air and on the spot. But Reid soon came to see that such work was inherently false, painted as the picture was day after day under varying conditions of light and shade. Accordingly, in 1865 he proceeded to Utrecht to study under Alexander Mollinger, whose work he admired for its unity and simplicity. This change in his method of viewing nature was looked on as revolutionary by the Royal Scottish Academy, and for some years his work found little favour in that quarter; but other artists gradually adopted the system of tone-studies, which ultimately prevailed. Reid went to Paris in 1868 to study under the figure painter Yvon; and he worked in 1872 with Jozef Israëls at the Hague. From this time forward Reid's success was continuous and marked. He showed his versatility in landscape, as in his Whins in Bloom, which combined great breadth with fine detail; in flower-pieces, such as his Roses, which were brilliant in rapid suggestiveness and force; but most of all in his portraits, which are marked by great individuality, and by fine insight into character. His work in black-and-white, his admirable illustrations in brushwork of Edinburgh and its neighbourhood, and also his pen-drawings, about which it has been declared that "his work contains all the subtleties and refinements of a most delicate etching," must also be noted. Elected Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1870, Reid attained full membership in 1877, and took up his residence in Edinburgh, at 17 Carlton Terrace on Calton Hill, in 1882. In 1891 he was elected President - a post which he held until 1902 - receiving also the honour of knighthood, and he was awarded a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. In later life he lived at 22 Royal Terrace on Edinburgh's Calton Hill. He died in Somerset on 9 February 1913.
Exhibited: Royal Academy 21, 1877-1903, Royal Scottish Academy 197, Glasgow Institute of Fine Art 1862-1913, Aberdeen Artists Society 1885-1919.  
Sir George Reid's work is represented in the National Galleries of Scotland and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
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