Artist: James Paterson

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

Visited Moniaive in 1876. Settled there after marriage in 1884. Exhibited Royal Scottish Academy from Kilniess, Moniaive, 1885, till he returned to Edinburgh.

Professional Bodies:

RSW 1885; NEAC 1887; ARSA 1896; ARWS 1898; RWS 1908; RSA 1910; PRSW 1922-1932. Librarian to the RSA

Exhibited At:

Royal Scottish Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, RoyalSociety of Watercolour Painters, Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, Royal Hibernian Academy, GI, Aberdeen Artists’ Society, Liverpool


W Y MacGregor and some other Glasgow Boys. Instrumental in establishing Scottish Art Review, mouthpiece of the Glasgow School


Kirkcudbright: one hundred years of an artists’ colony, Patrick Bourne, Atelier Books, Edinburgh, 2000. Scottish Watercolours 1740-1940, Julian Halsby, Batsford. A History of Scottish Art, Bill Smith and Selina Skipwith, Merrell, London, 2003.

Paterson produced Nithsdale, James Maclehose and sons, 1893, a series of photogravures of his work.

Image of the artist from a family album, kindly supplied by a member of the artist’s family.  The photograph from 1892/3 shows the Paterson family at Torwood.  James Paterson is standing at the right of the picture.  The three boys seated on the bench are his sons Hamish, the artist, Quentin and Fergus.  Quentin entered the navy and was later managing director of William Beardmore, ship builders, glasgow.


Father of Hamish Constable Paterson.

“It was in Moniaive that his finest works were painted, and his landscapes of the area were a consistent feature of Glasgow School exhibitions in the 1880s and 1890s”. Smith and Skipwith (see bibliography).  His enduring commitment to Moniaive arose from his conviction that landscape painters should, as he said, not “flirt with a new neighbour each remaining summer but.. marry metaphysically some well-chosen space”. His Pool in Craigdarroch Glen is illustrated in Bourne p44 and his Autumn in Glencairn p46 (see bibliography). His Springtime, Moniaive 1887 is illustrated in Halsby p139 (see bibliography). His Winter Sunshine, Moniaive, is illustrated in Smith and Skipwith, p92 (see bibliography). Many of his large Moniaive landscapes were sold in Europe.

Dumfries and Galloway pictures in public collections shown in exhibition at Lillie art Gallery, Milngavie, 1983:
Craigenputtock, 1882, Smith Art Gallery, Stirling
Dunglaston, 1884, Smith Art Gallery
The Last Turning , Winter Moniaive, 1885 Glagow Art Gallery and Museum
Craigdarroch Gracefield Art Centre
Moniaive Smith Art Gallery
Morton from Keir, 1893 Glasgow Art Gallery
Drumlanrig Castle, 1893, Perth Museum and Art Gallery

Paterson sold many works in Germany, including  his Solway Sands of 1894 to Leipzig Museum.

A copy of Paterson’s journal and many photographs of the Paterson family and his works can be found n the library of the University of Glasgow.

Nithsdale, watercolour 14 by 21 ” in Dundee Art Gallery.

Paterson exhibited a number of Moniaive works at an exhibition Watercolours of Edinburgh and Elsewhere at the Fine Art Society in  January 1908

James Paterson was born in Glasgow in 1854, where his father was a prosperous manufacturer. After school James went into the family business but his leisure hours were devoted to art and he attended early morning and evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. In 1874 he had two works accepted at the Royal Scottish Academy and the following year he exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute, enough to persuade his father that he was serious about his art and to be given a small allowance, which enabled him to study in Paris and travel on the continent.

James Paterson was a life long friend of W Y McGregor and McGregor’s studio was a meeting place for a number of young artists, who became known as the Glasgow Boys. Various members of the group painted together in East Lothian and later in Kirkcudbright but it was the village of Moniaive in Dumfriesshire that attracted Paterson. He first came in the late eighteen seventies and so much liked the surrounding countryside that he settled here following his marriage in 1884. His parents bought the couple a small cottage, Kilniess on the edge of the village and James employed his friend John James Burnet to enlarge the property and add a studio. From then on local scenes by Paterson featured in all the exhibitions in which the Boys took part. His work was also exhibited abroad, particularly in Munich.

Moniaive and the surrounding countryside, the valley of the Nith and the Solway coast provided inspiration for the artist for many years and unlike many of the Glasgow Boys Paterson was happy to find new possibilities in the familiar painting grounds of the local area. This was the setting for his finest work. As he wrote, landscape painters should not ‘flirt with a new neighbour each remaining summer.’ In 1893 he produced Nithsdale, a series of photogravures of his work.

From 1897, however, Paterson also had a studio in Edinburgh, spending part of the year there and the rest at Kilniess and in 1906 he finally moved to Edinburgh. However, he continued to holiday in Galloway, particularly along the Colvend coast. A number of works exhibited during the First World War were of Rockcliff, Rough Firth and other places along this coast. James Paterson became a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1910 the year of his wife’s death and thereafter he increasingly threw himself into public duties becoming President of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1922 and Librarian, then Secretary of the Royal Scottish Academy. James Paterson died in Edinburgh in 1932.