John Duncan

Scotland / 1866 - 1945 / wikipedia /
Sometimes: John McKirdy Duncan

John Duncan; Scottish painter.

He was born in the Hilltown area of Dundee, the son of a butcher and cattleman. John, however, had no interest in the family business and preferred the visual arts. By 15 he was submitting cartoons to the local magazine "The Wizard of the North" and was later taken on as an assistant in the art department of the Dundee Advertiser. At the same time he was also a student at the Dundee School of Art, then based at the High School of Dundee. In 1887-88 he worked in London as a commercial illustrator, then traveled to the continent to study at Antwerp Academy under Charles Verlat and the Düsseldorf Art Academy.

In 1889 Duncan returned to Dundee and exhibited in the new Victoria Art Galleries extension of the Albert Institute. The following year he became one of the founder members of the Dundee Graphic Arts Association (now Dundee Art Society). Most of his income at this time was derived from portrait commissions, including jute merchant John L Luke and Mrs Hunter of Hilton.

In 1892 Duncan moved to Edinburgh to work with the sociologist, botanist and urbanist Patrick Geddes, whom Duncan had met in Dundee. As part of the Celtic Revival movement, Duncan painted murals for Geddes's halls of residence at Ramsay Garden. He also become the principal artist for Geddes' 1895-97 seasonal magazine "The Evergreem."

...Thanks to Geddes's influence, in 1900 Duncan was appointed as a Professor at the Chicago Institute founded by Francis Wayland Parker. His stay there was not a happy one, and after Parker's death he returned to Scotland and settled in Edinburgh, where he would live for the rest of his life.

Duncan's last major work was entitled 'Mary Queen of Scots at Fotheringhay' (1929). The work was commissioned and is now held by the University of St Andrews. The painting was completed in spite of the critical antagonisms Duncan was facing at the time. ( )
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First Collected by

Suzan Hamer


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