William McTaggart, popularly known as the Scottish impressionist, was born in a small farming village, by the name of Arcs. The village was on the west coast of Laggan of Kintyre.
William McTaggart Early Life
William McTaggart was born the third of all eight children born to his farmer father, Dugald McTaggart and Barbara Brolochan. The family moved on to Campbell town where William was enrolled in a school run by the Society for the promotion of Christian knowledge in Scotland.
After finishing his elementary learning there, he was apprenticed to Dr. Buchanan. His association with Dr. Buchanan was the turning point in his life. At the age of sixteen, on the recommendation of Dr. Buchanan, he went to Glasgow to train in portrait painting under Daniel Macnee, the portrait painter.
Further with Macnee’s recommendation, he moved on to Edinburgh to be admitted as a student of Trustees Academy. At the Trustees Academy, he trained under Robert Scott’s Lauder. He exhibited his paintings at the Royal Scottish Academy. In 1879, he became a member of the same. He started with painting figure painting, mainly that of children. Later on, he was intrigued by the strange relationship that nature had with humans and so shifted to painting landscape, especially marine scenes.
Willaim McTaggart Paintings
Willaim McTaggart initially started off by sketching portraits with chalk and also made money by it. In 1855, with his genre paintings, he received great acclaim and got a chance to exhibit at the Royal Scottish Academy. His paintings of the following year were even more successful and he got elected as an associate of the academy. He then took on to painting scenery which resembles the place where he grew up.
From 1870 onwards, William McTaggart’s paintings saw a shift from the figure paintings to totally landscape paintings. He had now drawn attention to painting scenes from the seafarer people, depicting the violent seas. He now painted the open seas. Having spent his childhood along the sea coast, a good number of his paintings involved the sea.
He painted the sea in its varied forms, sometimes in its loneliness or sometimes with a subject like a small child or a fisherman.He continued to paint portraits and very often joined them by an activity such as playing by the shore, plucking flowers and so on. This made his pictures unique in that although they were portraits, they had an element of dynamism in them.
In 1880s and 1890s, William McTaggart started to paint more serious historical issues. His paintings however never departed from the subtle expression of man-environment relationship.
During this time, there was an enormous exodus of Scottish people leaving the land and emigrating to America. He painted three paintings depicting the emigration.The sailing of the emigrant ship 1895 was the last of them.
Another of his series, The coming of St. Colomba, depicts the events related to the Saints coming to Scotland from Ireland.
Famous paintings of William McTaggart
Sketch of boats. 1883
Sketch of herring fishermen.1883
Off to fishing 1871
The bait gatherers 1879
On the white sands 1870
Two children paddling 1877
Quiet sunset Machrihanish
Sailing boat on a stormy sea
The equinoctial gales, Crail harbour
The sailing of the emigrant ship 1895
William McTaggart later life
In 1889, William McTaggart moved from Edinburgh to a small quiet and picturesque town, Broomiknowe. The love for his native place never ebbed and he continued visiting it yearly. In his later years, he exhibited only at Society of Scottish artists and Royal Scottish watercolor Academy.
In 1901, thirty-two of his paintings were exhibited at various Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Dundee.
William McTaggart Death
William McTaggart died in April 1910, at his home in Broomiknowe of a heart attack.