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Art in Scotland
Robert M'Innes

Born, 1801; died, February 1886.

A painter of genre subjects, which he treated in a simple, natural manner. His pictures are more characterised by a high degree of finish and good careful drawing and colour, than by the loftier qualities of art, such as imagination, or subtlety of expression and treatment.

He spent many years of his life in Italy, from whence he returned about 1848. During that period he occupied a fair position as an artist, and was frequently represented on the walls of the Royal Academy, as well as in Scottish exhibitions. One of the earliest of his pictures at the Royal Academy (1843) was Italian Bowlers, a large work containing many characteristic figures grouped in the courtyard of an osteria. Five years later he exhibited what was a great advance on his previous works, a Summer's Afternoon on the Lido at Venice, being a representation of the celebration of afesta by a party of Italian peasants assembled under a tree, and containing many effective groups of figures painted in a clear and finished manner. In the same exhibition he was also represented by a Scene on the Carrara Mountains, an elaborate picture of bullocks drawing blocks of marble from the quarries down the mountainside, notable for the successful rendering of the peculiar sluggish movement of the animals. In 1849 he exhibited two pictures of a homely character which were favourably noticed, the First Pair of Trews, and Enforcing the Sanitary Laws. The former of these represented a tailor measuring a lad of fifteen or sixteen years of age who had previously worn only the kilt, and the latter a girl washing a child at a fountain. His Fiori del Carnival appeared at the Royal Academy in the following year, representing a group of ladies seated at a balcony overlooking the Corso thronged with figures; it was not well hung. Its meritorious qualities were constituted by good colour and execution with considerable grace, while its defect was a slight absence of the Italian character. The Diversion of the Moccoletti of the following year was a similar subject to the last-mentioned, but richer in colour, and, like nearly all his later works, finished in a most fastidious manner, and freer of the hard and sometimes meaningless shadows injuring his earlier works.

He died at Stirling, and for many years previously had ceased to contribute to the exhibitions. One of his works, not his best, is in the Glasgow Corporation Galleries.

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