Artist: Jessie Marion King

Date of Birth:
1875
Date of Death:
1949
Place of Death:
Kirkcudbright
Residence in Dumfries & Galloway:

Settled in Kirkcudbright 1915. Lived at Greengate, High Street, which she bought in 1907. The 1907 valuation role shows 6 tenants in the close in houses later rented to artists. Also used studio at 21 High Street

Education:

Glasgow School of Art

Exhibited At:

Royal Scottish Academy; RSW; Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts; Aberdeen Artists’ Society; Royal Hibernian Academy; SWA; Liverpool; LS

Bibliography:

The Enchanted World of Jessie M King, Colin White, Canongate, Edinburgh, 1989. Glasgow Girls: women in art and design 1800-1920, Jude Burkhauser, Canongate, Edinburgh. Jessie M King, Cordelia Oliver, (exhibition catalogue), Scottish Arts Council, Edinburgh, 1974. Studio, Volume 26, 1902; Volume 36, 1906; Volume 60, 1914. Jessie M King, Hunterian Art Gallery, The Mackintosh House Gallery.  Exhibition contained two watercolours asociated with Kirkcudbright.

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

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

There is a section on the artist in Liz Arthur’s Glasgow Girls – Artists and Designers 1890 – 1930.

SCRAN Pathfinder pack

Notes:

Born in Bearsden 1875. Entered Glasgow School of Art 1893. Taught book and ceramic illustration at Glasgow School of Art from 1899 until 1908. Primarily known as an illustrator but designed jewellery, fabrics wallpapers; did Batik work. Her reputation was enhanced by frequent publication of her drawings in the Studio. First visit to Kirkcudbright 1903 (Burkhauser – see bibliography). Married E A Taylor in 1908. Opened the Sheiling atelier in Paris,1911. Also maintained cottage on Arran, where she and her husband ran sketching schools. Stewartry Museum has a range of King related material and correspondence, including her portrait by Helen Paxton Brown.


Jessie Marion King was born on March 20th, 1875 in New Kilpatrick, now Bearsden, Galsgow, where her father, the Rev. James King was minister.  As a child Jessie showed a natural talent for drawing.  Her parents were against her following art as a career, but eventually agreed to her enrolling at the Glasgow School of Art.  Under the direction of Francis Newbery, the School had become the centre of a new distinctly Scottish form of the “Art Nouveau” movement – which became known across Europe as “the Glasgow style”.  Newbery noted and encouraged her remarkably original and imaginative talent in illustration and commissioned design work from her from the School itself.

Around 1903 Jessie M King first visited Kirkcudbright.  The town was already known for its community of artists, centred around the “Glasgow Boy” painter E A Hornel.  On his advice, in 1908 Jessie purchased an eighteenth century house on the High Street which she later called “Greengate”.

In 1908, her fiancee, Ernest Taylor chose to settle permanently in Salford, where he worked as chief designer for a furniture manufacturer.  The couple were married, and in August the following year their only child, Merle was born.  In 1908, Taylor accepted an invitation to take a teaching post at a new art school in Paris.  After a year, the Taylors opened their own art school in Montmatre, which they called “The Sheiling Atelier”.

When War was declared in August 1914, the Taylors were unable to continue teaching in Paris.  Returning to Kirkcudbright in August 1915, they carried on with the Summer Schools.  After the war, they decided against re-starting their art school in Paris.  Back in Kirkcudbright, Jessie’s book illustration work began to revive.  She also began to work on “Batik” fabric design.  In 1924 she wrote and illustrated a book about the technique, called “How Cinderella was able to go to the Ball”.

Ceramic decoration was another new line of work.  Her main outlet for decorated pottery was the Paul Jones Tea Room in Kirkcudbright.  Here, in 1932, as a favour to the owner, Jessie had re-modelled the interior and exterior on a pirate theme.

The Taylors had become key members of Kirkcudbright’s artistic community.  Through their teaching and wide circle of acquaintances, many artists were drawn to visit the town.  Both commission work and teaching was interrupted by the Second World War, and Jessie’s last commission for a cover design came in 1949, and was for a book titled “The Parish of New Kilpatrick” – the same Bearsden parish were she had grown up.  At the end of July of that year, she suffered a heart attack, and on August 3rd she died.