This artist worked primarily as a
portraitist, making his name in those subjects in the ten years before
the First World War. However he also painted landscapes such as scenes
of the Solway Firth which appeared to be influenced by the work of
Philip Wilson Steer who he knew while at the Slade.
Sholto Johnstone Douglas was born in
Edinburgh and studied in
Paris, Antwerp and at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. His works
include the painting of pictures of "dazzle" ships during the first world war and
fifty-two of these paintings are in the Imperial War Museum. He lived in
France from 1926 to 1939 when he did some landscape work in the
Provencal area so this work may stem from that time.
Note that he was a member of
the well known Scottish family that included John Sholto Douglas, 8th
Marquess of Queensbury (1844-1900) who devised the rules for boxing. He
was the son of Arthur Henry Johnstone Douglas of Lockerbie (1846-1923).
Arthur, in turn, was the son of Robert Johnstone Douglas of Lockerbie.
Robert was the son of Henry Alexander Douglas, brother of the 6th and
7th Marquesses of Queensberry. Robert's wife, Lady Jane Douglas
(1811-1881) , was the daughter of Charles Douglas, 6th Marquess of
Queensberry. Hence, the grandparents of Sholto Johnstone Douglas, were
both members of the Queensberry family and, in fact, first cousins (this
information was contributed by another descendant).
An obituary of Sholto Douglas appeared
in The Times newspaper in March 1958. To quote some extracts from this:
"He was also a man who, in human
terms, led a long life notable for its unassuming expression of
civilized values. As a portrait painter he may be said to have belonged
to the period of Sargent. But his vision and style were his own.
Incidentally, he made Royal Academy history by introducing for the first
time a motor car to its walls. But his enduring works will perhaps be
his landscapes.....they portrayed, with a truly poetic sense of
atmosphere, the subtle half-tones of his native countryside...with its
tenuous greys and blues. Here in Scotland he was at home, not merely as
a painter but as a sportsman, going out after geese, sailing his
home-made sand-yacht at frightening speeds over the Merse, riding on
horseback over the Lowland country, and looking after the ponies which
he brought back with him from a trip to Iceland."
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