Sir James Guthrie

British, b.1859, d.1930

Marion Lorna Guthrie

  • 1895
  • Oil on canvas
  • Marion Lorna Grant bequest in memory of her brothers John and Neil Guthrie, 1972
  • 1060 x 855 x 45mm
  • 72/02

Scottish artist James Guthrie’s 1895 portrait of his eight-year- old Christchurch niece, Lorna Guthrie, is a reminder of the close ties then existing between New Zealand and Britain. Lorna’s father, Dr John Guthrie, had been ordered complete rest and a voyage home to Britian, leading to a reunion with his younger brother James, by then a leading name in Scottish art. James Guthrie made his mark in the early 1880s as a member of the ground-breaking Glasgow Boys, who were influenced by French painters, particularly Jules Bastien-Lepage. This later work, with its restricted range of colour and tones, also shows the influence of Guthrie’s friend and mentor, American-born, London-based artist, James McNeill Whistler.

(The Moon and the Manor House, 12 November 2021 – 1 May 2022)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Marion Lorna Guthrie was 10 years old when James Guthrie painted this portrait of his niece. Lorna’s father, Dr John Guthrie, was working at Glasgow Hospital at the time, but the family had emigrated from Scotland to New Zealand in 1874. The portrait was influenced by the poses and limited colour palette used by James Whistler(1834 -1903), whose works Guthrie would have seen while he was working in a nearby studio in London. Although Guthrie began his career painting landscapes, it was with portraiture that he was to have the most success. Born in Greenock, Guthrie began a career in law but gave it up in 1877 and began studying art in 1879. He visited Paris in 1882 where he was influenced by the French plein air painters. He returned to Scotland where he became a leading member of the Glasgow School of artists. In 1902 Guthrie was elected President of the Royal Scottish Academy and in 1903 he was knighted for his contribution to art. (Label date unknown)

  • This standing child study is of the artist's New Zealand niece, who was visiting Scotland with her family while her father, a surgeon, was lecturing in Glasgow. It has been influenced by the poses and colours used in the work of James Whistler, whose works Guthrie would have seen while he was working in a nearby studio in London. The pose, the attentive expression in the eyes and the immediacy and vitality of the paintwork capture the sense of childlike vivacity in this work. Only the broadest details are given to the black dress or to the hands holding the hat. By contrast the alert expression on the child's face is captured with a succession of carefully smoothed and modulated layers of paint. (Label date unknown)