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Lost paintings by Dundee Colourist debut at exclusive art exhibition

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A plea to find lost paintings from a forgotten Dundee art hero has given a city exhibition a major boost.

Curator Alan Lawson asked people to hunt high and low for art work by John Maclauchlan Milne, and thanks to the power of the people, several paintings have been donated to the Roseangle Gallery.

The exhibition for the artist often described as The Dundee Colourist is now under way, and Alan says it has seen strong early numbers.

Alan Lawson has been curating the exhibition at Roseangle Gallery.
Alan Lawson has been curating the exhibition at Roseangle Gallery. June 2022.

He said: “Word is beginning to get around.

“We always ask people to tell their friends and family, and we think that’s now beginning to work!

“We’ve had quite a few people coming along who had never heard of Milne before.”

But Milne has a strong connection to Dundee, having spent about three quarters of his working life in the city.

Milne sketched the Royal Arch in Dundee.
Milne sketched the Royal Arch in Dundee.

It’s a connection that’s only getting stronger, with all of the paintings in Alan’s exhibition having come from the area.

He said: “Up until February of this year we only had six people prepared to lend us paintings.

“But we’ve since had another 10 people come forward, so we now have 16 different lenders.

“They have all been people from Dundee, or within a 20-mile radius, so it’s very much a Dundee show.”

The artwork has been provided from the people of Dundee.
The artwork has been provided from the people of Dundee.

One such lender is Maurice Millar, who has also written a book about the artist.

He said: “My Milne painting, ‘Rosemount, 16th Hole’, is Number 30 at the exhibition at the Roseangle Gallery.

“I inherited the painting through my family.

“It’s one of a series painted at Rosemount Golf Course by Milne in the summer of 1932.

“They were exhibited in his studio at 132a Nethergate in October 1932.

Milne's painting of Dundee harbour.
Milne’s painting of Dundee harbour.

“The unsold pictures, including mine, were exhibited again in February 1933 at the Albert Institute (now the McManus).

“A copy of that exhibition catalogue survives – my painting was offered at a price of eight guineas.”

Eight guineas roughly equates to £8.40, but nowadays Milne’s works tend to go for a little more.

A recent auction in Tayport saw one of his watercolours go under the hammer for £3,500.

The Dundee Colourist: John Maclauchlan Milne.
The Dundee Colourist: John Maclauchlan Milne.

Maurice added: “This is the only painting that I have inherited and I was intrigued to find out how it came into our family.

“I did some investigating, but this remains unexplained.

“However, as my research findings accumulated, I came to realise that the information provided the structure for the chapters of a book.

“This is the only book that I have written.”

There have been previous exhibition catalogues about Milne’s work, but Maurice believes his is the first illustrated biography of the artist.

Millar's book on Milne
Millar’s book on Milne is now available on his website.

The collection at the Roseangle Gallery now has a total of 44 works.

It’s the biggest Milne exhibition to ever be staged in Scotland.

The paintings are due to be valued by Lyon and Turnbull auctioneers on July 12.

Alan said the exhibition has been a success all thanks to the people of Dundee.

He said: “People have been really generous.”

The exhibition aims to showcase each stage of Milne's working life
The exhibition aims to showcase each stage of Milne’s working life. June 2022.

Milne started by painting local scenes, and was president of the Dundee Art Society from 1919.

After a brief stint in France, he went to the Highlands with Alan’s grandparents.

He later went to Iona to paint and his exhibits in 1937, 1938 and 1939 include North Shore, Iona, Sound of Iona and Treshnish Isles.

A final exhibition at his studio in the Nethergate in April 1940 seems to have marked the end of Milne’s time in Dundee.

He was later named The Dundee Colourist.

Milne also completed a painting of St Tropez
Milne also completed a painting of St Tropez. June 2022.

Alan added: “It’s a complete collection in microcosm, in a way.

“We don’t know how many paintings Milne completed, or how many are still out there, but it’s nice to have something from each phase.

“We’d really like people to come and see the exhibition before it closes.

“Because the work belongs to the public, after the exhibition closes it’ll go back into their homes, behind closed doors.

“This really is people’s last chance to see a Milne collection of this scale.”

The exhibition allows people to see previously unseen paintings by the Dundee artist.
  • The Maclauchlan Milne exhibition at the Roseangle Gallery is running Tuesday – Friday until July 23.
  • Maurice Millar’s biography on Milne, The Missing Colourist, can be purchased from his website.

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