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The Scottish Colourists were a group of painters from Scotland whose post-impressionist work was not very highly regarded when it was first exhibited in the 1920s and 1930s due to its highly developed use of colour. It aimed to subvert the classical use of tone and texture in landscape painting. However in the late 20th Century it came to have a formative influence on contemporary Scottish art and culture.
The Scottish Colourists combined their training in France and the work of French Impressionists and Fauvists, such as Monet, Matisse and Cézanne, with the painting traditions of Scotland. A forerunner of this movement was William McTaggart (1835 – 1910), a Scottish landscape painter who was influenced by Post-Impressionism. He is regarded as one of the great interpreters of the Scottish landscape and is often labelled the "Scottish Impressionist".
The leading figure of the fully developed Scottish Colourist movement was John Duncan Fergusson, who visited Paris regularly from the 1890s on and then lived there from 1907 until 1914. Other Scottish Colourists were Francis Cadell, Samuel Peploe and Leslie Hunter. They "absorbed and reworked the strong and vibrant colours of contemporary French painting into a distinctive Scottish idiom during the 1920s and 1930s".
The Scottish Colourists continued the work of their predecessors, the Glasgow Boys. Although their style was confident and vibrant, their subject matter was rather timid compared to their French counterparts as it merely consisted of island landscapes, Edinburgh interiors and fashionable models. The Scottish colourists were internationally known during their lifetimes but their work fell out of favor by World War II, until they were rediscovered in the 1980s and subsequently seen to have played an influential role on the development of Scottish art.
Their work is featured in the Aberdeen Art Gallery in Aberdeen, Scotland; the J. D. Fergusson Gallery in Perth, Scotland; the University of Stirling and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Some of Leslie Hunter's paintings can be seen in Kelvingrove art Gallery. The Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery is said to house the largest collection of works by Peploe and McTaggart.