Artist: Edward Atkinson Hornel

Date of Birth:
Date of Death:
Place of Death:
Residence in Dumfries & Galloway:

Hornel was a tenant of 19 and 21 High Street, Kirkcudbright, a house belonging to his family, before purchasing Broughton House, Kirkcudbright, in 1900.


Edinburgh; Antwerp

Professional Bodies:


Exhibited At:

Royal Scottish Academy; Royal Academy; RSW; Royal Institute of Oil Painters; Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; Aberdeen Artists’ Society; L


Studied in Antwerp with W S MacGeorge. Worked with George Henry, with whom he visited Japan.


Hornel: the life and work of Edward Atkinson Hornel, Bill Smith, Atelier Books, Edinburgh, 1997.

Kirkcudbright: one hundred years of an artists’ colony, Patrick Bourne, Atelier Books, Edinburgh, 2000.

Five Centuries of Scottish Painting, Atelier Books, Edinburgh, 2006.

E A Hornel Reconsidered, William R Hardie, Scottish Art Review, Volume XI, Nos 3 and 4, 1968 (In Stewartry Museum file) Also: Japan Lecture by E A Hornel, Glasgow 9/2/1895.

Representative Men of the South Mr E A Hornel from The Gallovidian; Scottish National Portrait Gallery file; Witt Library;

EA Hornel, Artist Dumfries and Galloway Standard 16/11/1921

Edward Atkinson Hornel 1864-1933 The Fine Art Society 1982 Exhibition catalogue.  Number 2

In the Town Crofts, Kirkcudbright 16 by 24; Others such as 32 Sea Shore Roses, 1906, 48.5 by 60.75in, City Art Centre , Edinburgh are of Brighouse Bay, as is 37 Gathering Primroses, Brighouse Bay 1917 30 by 25in (private collection).  Photos of Hornel and Broughton House including portrait photo by T and R Annan and sons.  SCRAN Pathfinder pack.

Tales of the Kirkcudbright Artists, Haig Gordon, Kirkcudbright, 2006.

Image of artist by W S MacGeorge by kind permission of Broughton House.


Studied with W S MacGeorge in Antwerp under Verlat.  Visited Japan in 1893 with Henry and visited Ceylon, 1907 and Burma and Japan, 1922.  Declined ARSA 1901 (Assosiate of the Royal Scottish Academy).  There are many works by E A Hornel at the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock.  His Voices in the Woodland and Brighouse Bay are in Paisley Museum and Art Galleries. As well as the superb Summer of 1891, the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool also has The Captive Butterfly (1905) and The Estuary. The library at Broughton House has a full list of Hornel works in public collections.  His Kirkcudbright from Janefield is illustrated in Bourne, p6 (see bibliography).  His Feeding the Swans, 912 was sold at Sotheby’s 22/04/2010 for £30,000. His Picking Flowers, Brighouse Bay sold for £32,450, Bonhams, Edinburgh, sale 19877 lot27, 13/12/2012.

One of his sister’s married William Mouncey.

Throughout his career Edward Atkinson Hornel remained firmly rooted in his home town of Kirkcudbright.  Although he was born in Australia, his parents came from Kirkcudbright, and Hornel was brought back home while still a young child.  After studying in both Edinburgh and Antwerp, he returned to Kirkcudbright in 1885 and set up his first studio at the back of the old Custom House at No 21 High Street, almost directly opposite the family home at No 18.

He became associated with the “Glasgow Boys” group, and many of the friends he made in the art world started regularly visiting Kirkcudbright.  His closest colleague in the early years was George Henry.  Together they experimented with an exuberant style of painting in which representation was subservient to decoration, and in the process became controversial figures.  One of Hornel’s own paintings caused a furore in Liverpool when it was exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery in 1892.  The municipal authorities were split over a proposal to acquire it for the permanent collection.  The purchase went through only because the alderman behing the idea turned it into a resigning issue.  Summer was the first “Glasgow Boys” picture, apart from commissioned portraits, to be brought for a major public collection in the UK.

In 1893 he and Henry went to Japan for an extended stay to investigate the reality behind the vogue for all things Eastern.  They were away for 19 months.  All but one of Hornel’s Japanese paintings were sold when they went on show in Glasgow in 1895.

His success brought substantial financial rewards.  In 1901 he bought the imposing eighteenth-century Broughton House at No 12 High Street (now run by the National Trust for Scotland); his friend, the architect John Keppie, designed a new studio for it.  Later a handsome gallery was added.  Hornel was particularly devoted to his garden, and, inspired by his visit to the Far Est, introduced Japanese motifs to its design.  He had always been interested in the history of his native Galloway, and in 1919 he began collecting books about Dumfries and Galloway.  His library eventually consisted of some 15,000 volumes.

He fully participated in the affairs of the town, serving on the town council though later resigning over a row about pavements.  He chaired the local Decorations Committee for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, and advised on the design of the town’s War Memorial.  In his later years he was on the bench as an Honorary Sheriff.  His civic duties became increasingly focused on education:  for three years he was on the county’s education committe, and conducted the negotiations with an American philanthropist which resulted in the building of a gymnasium for Kirkcudbright Academy.

His early artistic radicalism gave way to an easy and lucrative formula of young girls (based on local youngsters) in decorative scenes at the seashore or in woodland.  In his studio work he relied more and more on photographs.  Hornel never married.  Until his death in 1933, he shared Broughton House with his sister Elizabeth (“Tizzie”)