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Jessie I Dunlop (1902-1970)

Jessie I Dunlop (1902-1970)

Though she is little known, Jessie Dunlop well represents the distinctive character of Scottish art in the early twentieth century.

Jessie Dunlop was from the Scottish town of Paisley, to the west of Glasgow. Studying at Glasgow School of Art, she developed as a painter in oil of portraits and figure groups, which she exhibited mainly at Paisley Art Institute, but also at the Aberdeen Artists Society and the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA).

While her portraits – of dogs as well as humans – tend to be naturalistic, her figure compositions are Symbolist in approach. They may be compared to the work of John Duncan and like artists of the Celtic Revival, but are more eclectic in style and wide ranging in theme, responding as they do to imagery and narrative that is variously Biblical, Classical and Oriental.

The eclecticism of the present work, in which Dawn drives an astrological procession, can be seen particularly in the representation of the earth: Islamic buildings combining with Celtic vegetal knots.

While exhibiting this work, at the RSA in 1934, Dunlop was living at ‘Lathan Sona’, Kinpurnie Road, Paisley, though she sent it from Slapton, near Kingsbridge, Devon, where she was probably on holiday. The original frame was produced by Glasgow maker, John Gibson. Two years later, she moved to the west coast town of Largs, in Ayrshire. At some point, she painted R B McPhaden, who had been Provost (or Mayor) of Largs in the years 1928-30.

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