Wartime drawings to be displayed at Scottish Gallery

First World War sketches by Adam Bruce Thomson will be on show at an exhibition at the Scottish Gallery. Picture: Contributed

First World War sketches by Adam Bruce Thomson will be on show at an exhibition at the Scottish Gallery. Picture: Contributed


BLACK and white drawings and etchings by a Scottish artist, who was serving on the front line during the First World War at the time, are going on display after being kept under wraps for the best part of a century.

Adam Bruce Thomson’s wartime drawings will be shown in the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, as part of an exhibition of his work next month.

Guy Peploe, the gallery’s managing director, said the retrospective would offer the most “in-depth” view of Bruce Thomson’s career to date, as well as charting Scottish painting for the first three-quarters of the 20th century.

The late artist’s surviving relatives have helped compile the exhibition.

Mr Peploe described the war-time work by Bruce Thomson, which goes on display as part of an exhibition of his works in the gallery on 6 November, as “extraordinarily poignant”.

Bruce Thomson, who lived in Edinburgh throughout his life, was one of the first students to enrol at the newly formed Edinburgh College of Art and went on to work there before and after the war.

Best known for his landscape paintings, particularly of the Highlands and the Scottish capital, Bruce Thomson was part of the “Edinburgh School” of artists who either taught or worked at the art college after the war.

However, he is rarely mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Sir William Gillies, Sir Robin Philipson, Anne Redpath, John Maxwell, William Crozier, William Geissler and Sir William MacTaggart.

Born in Edinburgh in 1885, Bruce Thomson studied drawing, painting and architecture at the art school before scholarships took him to France, Holland and Spain.

An accomplished etcher and lithographer, he also regularly worked in pastels and watercolours. He worked at the art school for more than 30 years, teaching etching, composition, still life and colour theory.

But despite being awarded the OBE in 1963, becoming president of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and Society of Scottish Artists, the artist was to stage just three solo shows before he died in 1976 at the age of 91.

Mr Peploe added: “That there are so many wonderful examples, unexhibited or not seen for the best part of a century, speaks of the artist’s modesty:”

His work is best represented in the archives of the National Library of Scotland, which holds some 24 of his sketchbooks, spanning around 40 years.

The wartime work of Bruce Thomson – who served with the Royal Engineers – includes images of troops digging trenches and building bridges, the wreckage of a German Zeppelin and scenes of Conde, Arras and Mons on the Allied front.

The exhibition, Painting the Century – Adam Bruce Thomson, is at the Scottish Gallery, Dundas Street, from 6 to 30 November.


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