Students and tutors of the MLitt programme ‘Technical Art History:Making and Meaning’ and the Hunterian Art Gallery have initiated a pilot project on the painting techniques and materials of three Scottish Colourists: John Duncan Fergusson (1874–1961), Samuel John Peploe (1831–1935) and Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell (1883–1937). This study, which is also supported by the National Galleries of Scotland, will add substantially to the scarce information on art-technological aspects of the Colourists, or on early 20th century Scottish painting in general.
The technical art history research methodology combines technical and art historical research, with scientific analysis and the study of historical sources (textual and visual). Five paintings in the collection of the Hunterian Art Gallery, all dated between 1909 and 1926, were examined. After a detailed preliminary examination and documentation of each work, paint samples were taken, which are now being studied and analysed with optical microscopy, fluorescent staining, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), scanning electron microscopy (SEM) in combination with energy-dispersive x-ray microanalysis (EDX), Raman micro-spectroscopy and Surface Enhanced Raman Scattering (SERS).
The project will significantly expand the material-technical knowledge of the Colourists and their Scottish contemporaries. As the Scottish Colourists were influenced by the continental avant-garde through their training in France, and were inspired by the French Impressionists and Fauvists, research will also contribute to a deeper understanding of early 20th century painting techniques and their development within Great Britain and Europe.
This workshop is in conjunction with The Hunterian.