James Paterson (Scottish 1854 –1932) was a Scottish painter and watercolourist associated with ‘The Glasgow Boys’ and best known for his landscape paintings of the countryside surrounding Moniaive, Dumfriesshire, where he lived from 1885 to 1905.
Born at Hillhead, Glasgow, in 1854 to a prosperous Glaswegian textile family he began his artistic education at the Glasgow School of Art under the tutelage of Robert Greenlees and A. D. Robertson, one of Glasgow’s finest watercolour teachers. In 1876, at the age of 22, Paterson set off for Paris with an allowance from his father, to study under Jacquesson de la Chevreuse and Jean Paul Laurens.
In 1879, after returning to Scotland, Paterson made his first visit to the village of Moniaive in Dumfries & Galloway. He was taken by the countryside and after his marriage to Eliza Grier Ferguson in 1884, was gifted Kilneiss Cottage in Moniaive by his parents. In 1894 the cottage was extensively modified and enlarged to designs by Glaswegian architect Sir John James Burnet and his brother Alexander Nisbet Paterson.
Paterson spent over 22 years in the area painting the Nithsdale and Ayrshire hills, the Solway Firth and the local river and burns. He painted mostly en plein air – as in France, capturing the elusive colours and light inherent in the Scottish countryside. During this period he formed friendships with a group of artists, which included Sir James Guthrie, W. Y. McGregor & E. A. Hornel, who came to be known as ‘The Glasgow Boys‘. Whilst many of his works were of local subjects, Paterson also painted in the Western Isles of Scotland, South and East England, France and Italy.
Paterson exhibited extensively at the Royal Academy from 1879 as well as at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA), New English Art Club (NEAC), Society of British Artists (SS) and Grosvenor Gallery.
Academic recognition was always important to Paterson, and he took his official duties very seriously. He was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) in 1885, became an associate member of the Royal Scottish Academy (ARSA) in 1896, and was awarded full membership of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1910. He became President of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1922 and served as Librarian between 1910 and 1924, and Secretary from 1924 until a few weeks before his death in January 1932.
Paterson’s work is held in the collections of the Scottish National Gallery, Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, Abbot Hall Art Gallery, The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum and The Stewarty Museum.