JAPAN, VAN GOGH AND HOMECOMING
Item Posted: Tuesday 27th October, 2009
Alex Reid had a widespread reputation as the Glasgow art dealer who was painted by Vincent Van Gogh. Reid lived in Dunoon for 20 years and served as an Argyll county councillor. As a keen walker, the affinity of Cowalfest for Alexander Reid is a strong one. He was also a sportsman, artist, entrepreneur, hard bargaining salesman, plausible politician, nurturer and worldwide promoter of Scottish artistic talent, Burns enthusiast, avid collector of Japanese prints, a Francophile described by one of his friends as ‘a perfervid Scot’.
His friendships with avant garde artists, his introduction of their works to Scotland, and his vigorous promotion of Scottish artists, made him a significant force in Scotland’s cultural standing, giving art in Scotland a close association with that in France and making Scottish art known in Europe and America.
Cowalfest 2009 is also celebrating the 150th anniversary of a Japan-UK treaty of friendship and trade, which marked the end of Japan’s 250 years of isolation. In its re-emergence as a growing industrial nation, a number of Scots played key roles, with 2009 being the 150th anniversary of Thomas Glover’s arrival in Nagasaki, just as Japan was beginning to open up to the west.
Fraserburgh-born Glover is now known as the Scottish Samurai and was awarded the 2nd highest honour of Japan - the Order of the Rising Sun - by Emperor Meiji in 1908 for his significant contributions to the country’s modernisation.
In bringing both celebrations together, the Cowalfest exhibition provides an intriguing glimpse into the world of Alexander Reid and the connections and cross influences between Scotland and Japan in the latter half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th.
2009 is the centenary of Reid’s visit to Japan in 1909.The exhibition, and the specially written accompanying booklet, looks at the influence of Japanese art on European and Scottish painters, the world of industry and shipbuilding, the enormous wealth these links generated for Scotland’s merchants and the growth of the passion for art and plants collections.
In the years Reid lived in Dunoon, the Cowal Peninsula and the Clyde Estuary were the playground of the rich and royal with connections across the globe. The Japanese connections are no less fascinating by being previously overlooked.
‘Alexander Reid and the Japanese influence –Arts, Ships and Plants’ Exhibition runs from 9th to 18th October Camera Club, Castle Street, Dunoon. FREE entry.
For the whole Cowalfest programme go to www.cowalfest.org