John McGhie

(1867 - 1952)

John McGhie was born in Lesmahagow near Lanark in Scotland in 1867; the son of a grocer. He showed an early interest in drawing and painting, but was initially apprenticed to an architect before persuading his father to allow him to enrol at the Glasgow School of Art. Following a year’s study in Glasgow he was awarded a scholarship to study for three years at the Royal Academy School in London where he was taught by Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896); amongst other renowned artists.

McGhie then studied in Paris at the École des Beaux-Arts and travelled in Europe and Italy in particular. McGhie would have been familiar with the social realism of artists like Léon-Augustin Lhermitte (1844–1925) and the ‘plein air’ school of painting, together with the later work of the Impressionists and their followers, figures that were to prove influential in his work.

Having returned to Scotland, McGhie married in 1901 Agnes Burns and settled in Kilconquhar. In 1904 they moved to Pittenweem near Anstruther on the Firth of Forth, a small fishing village which was to furnish McGhie with subject matter throughout his career. He painted the boats and fisher folk, the landscape of East Neuk and its inhabitants, whom he believed were particularly good looking. He exhibited each year in Glasgow and in 1906 moved there, though spending the summers in Pittenweem.

McGhie painted primarily in his home village, but also worked in Cornwall, the Orkneys and the Islands, particularly Iona.

McGhie was highly successful as a landscape and genre painter and also as a portrait painter and book illustrator. He exhibited in Scotland and also at the Royal Academy in London 1891-1927. His daughter and granddaughter were both artists. McGhie died in 1952.