The bond between the United States and Scotland is long-standing, with Scots settling here since the earliest Colonial days. The number of Americans who share some of this heritage is enormous; at least eleven presidents were of Scottish ancestry. So, it is especially significant that Scotsman like myself will give a special lecture this fall at Edinburgh’s Lyon & Turnbull on Pennsylvania’s Impressionists such as Edward Redfield, Daniel Garber, Walter Baum and John Fulton Follinsbee, among others. Centered in and around New Hope, Bucks County, near Philadelphia earlier in the last century, they were prominent artists of the genre.
The United States produced many exceptional painters in the late 19th and early 20th century and yet unfortunately they remain relatively unknown on the world stage. This is largely attributable to the fact that the market for American art remains very much within its own borders - a similar situation exists in Scotland, albeit on a substantially different scale. Of course artists from both countries were heavily indebted to the originators of Impressionism in France but the best of them succeeded in capturing within their work the unique character of their respective nations making it at once distinctive and significant. As a Scot now living in the States I am delighted that my home city of Edinburgh is hosting an exhibition that I hope will do much to raise awareness of those American artists whose work - I believe - is deserving of greater recognition.
Also noteworthy is the fact that interest and exploration of American art by European museums is growing. Recently, London’s National Gallery acquired its first American painting, the 1912 Men of the Docks by George Bellows, for over $25 million.
From Europe to America and back again, with philanthropy helping to create new opportunities to reexamine preconceived ideas of art and its interpretation, the Terra Foundation and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art are joining hands to take a fresh look at American Impressionism through European eyes. The art and artists of the Old World and the New are connected once again.