James Whitelaw Hamilton 1860-1932



Helensburgh-based Whitelaw Hamilton became friends with the Glasgow Boys, their presence in the town not surprising given Helensburgh’s reputation as a centre for artists. In 1884, he joined Guthrie, Henry, Crawhall and Melville at Cockburnspath, a village in Berwickshire lying between Berwick-upon-Tweed and Edinburgh. For much of Whitelaw Hamilton’s life, it appeared that his work was appreciated more abroad than in his own country, and he exhibited abroad as often ashe did at home. This was highlighted when he became a member of the Munich Secession and won a gold medal at the Munich International Exhibition in 1897, possibly for the picture illustrated here. The Munich Secession was an association of visual artists who broke away from the mainstream Munich Artists’ Association in 1892, to promote and defend their art in the face of what they considered official paternalism and its conservative policies. They acted as a form of cooperative, using their influence to assure their economic survival and obtain commissions.