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Art in Scotland
James Docharty

Born, 1829 (?) ; died, April 1878.

Docharty was born in the calico-printing district of the Vale of Leven, at Bonhill, near Dumbarton, where his father was employed in one of the numerous works for which that locality divides its fame with football-playing. He served his apprenticeship as a patterndesigner, which profession he pursued in Glasgow till about 1861, when he took seriously to the profession of a landscape-painter, for which he always had a strong predilection. His first studies of any consequence were made at the village of Ardenadarn, a watering-place on the Holy Loch on the Clyde, after which the establishment of the Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts afforded him an opportunity of putting his works before the public. The quality of his landscapes, in which the character of Scottish landscape was simply and truthfully delineated, rapidly brought him into notice, and led to his election as an Associate of the Scottish Academy in 1877. He was a regular exhibitor at the local exhibitions, the Scottish Academy, and during the last few years of his life, at the Royal Academy, where his works were favourably noticed. In the spring of 1866, on account of his health beginning to fail, he left for a trip to Egypt, in the course of which he made some sketches of Nile scenery which he never wrought out; and afterwards spent some months at the Isle of Wight, in spite of which the pulmonary complaint from which he had been suffering terminated fatally in Glasgow in 1878.

While his works rose far above mediocrity, they never aspired to or touched the sublimer aspects of nature. The scenery in the neighbourhood of his native place gave a tone to all his works, and he wisely confined himself to the delineation of a similar class of subject. The hills and lochs of Perthshire afforded him abundance of inexhaustible material, and this he utilised in a direct and simple manner, sometimes approaching, but seldom or never passing, the verge of poetical expression. Among his most successful works were—the Haunt of the Red Deer, the Head of Loch Lomond at Ardlui, the Trosachs, and the Falls of the Dochart at Killin. He was an earnest student of nature and an industrious worker, his efforts being further spurred on by the fact that his children were mostly mutes. His careful habits enabled him, with the addition of a fund realised by the sale of his remaining works and sketches after death, to provide for the future of his family.

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