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Art in Scotland
John Milne Donald

Born, 1819; died, 1866.

Although undistinguished by Academic honours, this artist had very considerable influence in fostering the art of landscape-painting, more especially in the west of Scotland. Like Docharty, he wrought almost exclusively in oil, and his pictures are characterised by great truth to nature, fine colour, and beauty of execution. A keen observer, he probably reverenced nature too deeply to use any liberties, and hence his works may be said to yield that amount of pleasure which accords with the appreciation of nature possessed by the spectator. His best works are those of a smaller size; he saw too keenly to paint to be seen at a distance, and he saw too wisely to paint anything but what conveyed the impression without the slavish following of nature. Ideality and impressionism formed no part of his creed, and for him did not exist. He selected from but never rejected nature, and what he selected he rendered faithfully and lovingly. To take Donald at his best, as an executant he is unapproached by any of his predecessors and by few of his successors.

He was brought early in his youth from Nairn to Glasgow, where he gained some little knowledge of art, and after his twenty- first year spent about four years in London, finally settling in Glasgow, painting panels for wall decorations and contributing to local exhibitions. His works, like those of many other artists, were not appreciated till after his death, and although he had to be satisfied with a comparatively small remuneration for his work, his pictures are now eagerly sought after, more especially by local collectors. He was a frequent contributor to the Edinburgh and Glasgow exhibitions up till his death, which occurred after his mind had given way.

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