James Donald (1830-1905): a notable Scottish Collector and Patron of the Arts
Drawing on new research, this talk will show how the Bothwell-born manufacturing
chemist, James Donald, became one of the most important art collectors and
patrons of his generation. The formation of his art collection will be discussed,
revealing him as a supporter of living artists and client of the most notable French,
Dutch, and Scottish dealers of the period. An extremely public-minded individual, Donald generously lent his pictures to the RSA, Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts and to the international exhibitions organised in Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1886 and 1888 respectively. A significant part of Donald’s collection was bequeathed to the Kelvingrove in 1905, including ceramics, old masters, British and 19th-century European works. We will discover why his pictures by Camille Corot, Charles François Daubigny, Diaz de la Pena, Jules Dupré, Jean François Millet and Théodore Rousseau and the work he commissioned in the 1880s and 1890s from the renowned Scottish stained-glass designer, Daniel Cottier, and from his principal architect, Frederick Vincent Hart, were especially important, creating a legacy for us to enjoy today.
Dr Andrew Watson is an art historian specialising in 19th-century British collecting of French art. He has written and lectured widely, with publications for the Louvre, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and The Burlington Magazine, and talks for the Burrell and Wallace collections, the Kelvingrove Museum, National Gallery of Scotland, and Brussels National Museum. February’s edition of the Burlington features an article Andrew wrote on the provenance of Vermeer’s important early work, A Maid Asleep (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York), which coincides with the opening of the Vermeer exhibition at the Rijksmuseum.
In 2024 Andrew will publish an article on Donald in Charles Sebag Montefiore’s Dictionary of British Art Collectors: 1600-1939, an important online publication hosted by the National Gallery, London.
Andrew is an Associate Lecturer with the Open University.