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Scottish Colourists at Abbot Hall Art Gallery

Highlights from the Fleming Collection on display in Cumbria

S J Peploe, Luxembourg Gardens, c. 1910, The Fleming-Wyfold Collection

Abbot Hall Art Gallery will present works by the Scottish Colourists in its last major exhibition before it closes for redevelopment.

The Scottish Colourists were a group of four painters whose post-Impressionist work had far-reaching influence on contemporary British art and culture.

This is believed to be the first ever exhibition showing the Colourists alongside those artists influenced by them.

Colour and Light: The Art and Influence of the Scottish Colourists – Highlights from the Fleming Collection features masterpieces from the renowned collection of Scottish art. The exhibition, of 47 works, opens on 18 October 2019 and runs until 1 February 2020.

Chelsea Eves, Abbot Hall curator said: “The exhibition explores not only the ground-breaking artistic achievements of the Scottish Colourists, but for the first time we are also addressing their influence on subsequent generations of Scottish artists and lasting impact on modern British art.

“This has enabled us to present works from our own collection in a whole new light.”

Lakeland Arts and the Fleming Collection have also widened their collaboration to include a display by artists influenced by the Colourists displaying masterworks from Lakeland Arts’ collection including a monumental work by Joan Eardley.

SJ Peploe, JD Fergusson, George Leslie Hunter, and FCB Cadell were four of the first artists in Europe to engage with the creative upheavals taking place in France at the turn of the twentieth century, which saw the birth of modern art.

Hailed at the time as international radicals – equal to artists such as Matisse and Picasso – this exhibition reinforces their status as four of the most talented, innovative and distinctive artists in twentieth century British art.

The Colourists did not forget their Scottish roots especially in their brilliance at conveying the unique beauty of Scottish landscape, marking them out as French inspired artists with a singular Scottish identity.

SJ Peploe, JD Fergusson, George Leslie Hunter, and FCB Cadell were the most gifted of their generation. The exhibition at Abbot Hall, Kendal, Cumbria, reinforces their status as four of the most talented, innovative and distinctive artists in twentieth century British art.

Work by the Colourists has been at the heart of the Fleming Collection since its inception in 1968 with Hunter’s masterpiece Peonies in a Chinese Vase being one of its first purchases.

This was followed by key works such as Peploe’s Luxembourg Gardens, Fergusson’s Blue Nude and Cadell’s The Feathered Hat: Paintings that reveal the quartet’s remarkable trajectory as artists.

Chelsea Eves added: “We are thrilled to host our first collaborative exhibition with the Fleming Collection. This is a fantastic opportunity to display masterpieces by the Colourists from the Fleming Collection’s exceptional array of Scottish Art, alongside Abbot Hall’s much-loved painting by S J Peploe, Still Life with Oranges and Tulips (1926).”

A selection of works from Lakeland Arts’ collection will explore the influence of the Scottish Colourists on artists such as Anne Redpath, William George Gillies and Joan Eardley.

James Knox, Director of the Fleming Collection said: “The Scottish Colourists were fearless in becoming truly modern artists – determined as painters to crack the code of expressing the reality of contemporary life. This exhibition reveals their concentrated brilliance reflected in their ability to produce challenging work of great beauty and delight.”

James will be at Abbot Hall Art Gallery for a talk about the Scottish Colourists on 31 October. He will chart their development from precocious followers of Whistler and Manet to dazzling exponents of the Franco-Scottish Colourist movement, to mature artists painting landscapes and still lives of lyrical beauty. He will bring the four artists to life –  the quiet one, the macho one, the dandy and the Bohemian. For more details and to book a place go to www.abbothall.org.uk.

Colour and Light: The Art and Influence of the Scottish Colourists – Highlights from the Fleming Collection is sponsored by Rathbones Kendal.

Richard Dawson, Managing Director of Rathbones Kendal, said: “This is a vibrant final exhibition before Abbot Hall closes for redevelopment, bringing works from the Fleming Collection to join Abbot Hall’s own Scottish Colourist pieces.

“As long-time sponsors of Lakeland Arts, we’re delighted to support world-class arts and culture right on our doorstep – and we’d like to congratulate Abbot Hall on curating another remarkable exhibition in Kendal.”

Abbot Hall will close for redevelopment in summer 2020. The total cost of the project is £9.6m. Multi-award-winning MUMA (McInnes Usher McKnight Architects), is the lead architect for the scheme.

The planned redevelopment will mean visitors can experience world class art in redesigned exhibition galleries. It would also see improved accessibility and landscaping making Abbot Hall a welcoming and vibrant place that everyone can enjoy.

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