ILLUSTRATED IS Woman by a Leaded Window. It was painted in 1958 by Glasgow School of Art-trained Robert Colquhoun. Oil on canvas, it is a couple of feet square and was presented to Dundee not long after its paint had dried.
Woman by a Leaded Window shimmered star-like in the firmament of household-name artists in the McManus Galleries’ recent Sense of Place exhibition, which included half a dozen blockbusters by the Scottish Colourists that would easily cull a million or two at auction.
Sense of Place presented la crème de la crème of Scottish 20th Century art from the city’s collection, from the Colourists to the Glasgow Boys and later landscapists such as Joan Eardley and James McIntosh Patrick.
It was Colquhoun’s black-outlined, geometrically-constructed feminine form which outshone many contemporary works.
Vermeer’s woman at an open windie it is not. Woman by a Leaded Window gives a nod to the Cubism of Picasso and Braque, and draws its inspiration from the great English modernism of Percy Wyndham Lewis, whose style the poet Ezra Pound put a name to – Vorticism.
Pound, incidentally, befriended Dundee’s firebrand suffragette Ethel Moorhead.
Alas, Sense of Place was due to close last weekend, so this presents an opportunity to share Colquhoun’s work with you, as well as allowing me to congratulate the McManus staff. It was one of the best exhibitions, I think, since Consider the Lilies in 2006, which took Dundee’s 20th Century art collection to Edinburgh and London.
Window-gazing? I recall the crowds outside London’s Fleming Gallery gawping at the McPats, McClures and Morroccos sent down from Dundee – and the gasps of surprise and wonder.
I was a proud lad that day.