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The Scottish artist, Dugald Sutherland MacColl, NEAC (1859-1948), is best remembered as a critic and curator. He was educated at university College London and then Oxford, and studied painting under Frederick Brown at Westminster School of Art. He was an early enthusiast of both the French and British varieties of Impressionism, and became a member of the New English Art Club in 1896. However, like his friend and fellow member, Henry Tonks, he was critical of Post-Impressionism and its champion, Roger Fry. Both he and Fry lectured in art history at the Slade School of Fine Art while Tonks was Assistant Professor. He also wrote art criticism for The Spectator (1890-96) and The Saturday Review (1896-1906; 1921-30), and later for The Week-end Review
(from 1930), and was editor of The Architectural Review (1901-5). The driving force behind the foundation of the National Art Collections Fund in 1905, he moved into museum administration, becoming the keeper of the Tate Gallery (1906-11) and then of the Wallace Collection (1911-24). In 1931, he published a collection of criticism, entitled Confessions of a Keeper, and, in 1940, his collected poems. The present portrait of him was produced in this later period. His crowning achievement, published in 1945, was the first major monograph on his friend, the British Impressionist, Philip Wilson Steer, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Biography.
In a letter written to the literary scholar and translator, Oliver Elton, on 11 May 1935, D S MacColl described this portrait as making him look like ‘an old bone’ (from a manuscript held by the University of Glasgow).