Portrait of a Child

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James Cowie
Born Cuminestown, Aberdeenshire, 1886-1956

Portrait of a Child, 1948

Oil on canvas
Purchased 1951 from the Artist with the Morris Trust Fund
Museum number 12-1951

This portrait of his daughter Barbara shows Cowie’s independent stance as a twentieth-century Scottish artist. He rejected colourful, expressive and painterly qualities for an intellectual, classical approach based on draughtsmanship. The complex composition, incorporating a picture within a picture, relates to Cowie’s interest in the Surrealist work of the English painter Paul Nash and in the exaggerated perspective of Italian Quattrocento artists, such as Carlo Crivelli and Andrea Mantegna.

This painting is based on an earlier work ' Miss Barbara Graham Cowie' of 1938-39, now in the Royal Scottish Academy’s Diploma Collection.

Cowie was an influential figure amongst East Coast artists, his approach reflected in the work of McIntosh Patrick, Edward Baird and Harry Keay.

Portrait of a Child
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