In 1946 Lindsay MacArthur’s widow, Beatrice Butts Thomson, donated four paintings to Glasgow. Lindsay was an artist and two of these works were his own, The Golden Quarry and Pastorale, Evening.
Lindsay’s father, also Lindsay Grandison, was born in the village of Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire. (1) His mother Catherine McNicol, known as Kate, who hailed from Dublin was Lindsay’s second wife and was twenty- one years his junior. (2) They married in Liverpool in 1860 and shortly moved to Braehead Villa, Oban in Argyll where Lindsay junior was born on 21 April 1865. (3) This was a period when the rail network was expanding, enabling many people to travel to coastal resorts. Oban was already a busy fishing town and ferry port. In 1866 Lindsay senior built the 80 room Alexandra Hotel, on vacant land which is now known as the Corran Esplanade, a prime site overlooking Oban Bay and competed with The Great Western Hotel for the top end of the market. He ran the hotel with his daughter Jane till his death in 1885. He left debts of £2478 of which £1000 was owed to Thomas Lawrie, art dealers in Glasgow, so perhaps Lindsay junior’s interest in art was inspired by his father. The hotel was then managed by Lindsay Senior’s wife until 1897 when it was put up for sale. (4) Although the family had a house at 3 Hampden Terrace in Glasgow, they resided mainly at the Alexandra in Oban in the 1870s. (5)
Lindsay junior appears to have had an early interest in art, attending Glasgow School of Art from 1881 to 1884. (6) In the 1891 census, when he was 25, he is described as a landscape painter. His brother Robert also studied art but by 1891 had become a surgeon. (7) Interestingly the 1881 census reveals that the artist William Black was staying at the Alexandra Hotel. He was a popular novelist whose landscape painting influenced his writing style such as in White Wings: A Yachting Romance of 1880. (8)
Lindsay travelled south in the 1890s and lived in the picturesque village of Broadway in The Cotswolds and became part of a group of artists known as The Broadway Group which was mainly comprised of expatriate American artists. The most prominent member was John Singer Sergeant who produced some of his best known works there such as Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose which was painted in the garden of Russell House in the village. This was the home of American artist Francis Millet who purchased the nearby Abbot’s Grange, a ruined monastery which he converted into a communal artists studio.
One of Millet’s best known works is Between Two Fires of 1892 which depicts a puritan standing between two rather confident kitchen maids. The puritan figure is modelled on Lindsay MacArthur who is described by a contemporary as ‘a highland landscape artist with a sardonic biting humour, a quick temper and fierce loyalties.’ (9)
Another of Millet’s paintings The Black Sheep, in The New Bedford Library, Massachusetts, and of a similar setting to Between Two Fires includes the same character modelled on MacArthur. Millet’s last return to the USA was, unfortunately, in 1912 when he boarded The Titanic and was last seen helping women and children as she sank. The bohemian Broadway Group had a reputation for the high life, with singing and drinking regularly breaking the peace of the village. The writer Edmund Gosse describes…’Nothing we do scandalises the villagers…one of the Americans was chased down the village street, screaming all the time and and trying to escape up lamp-posts and down wells. Not a villager smiled, they only say ‘them Americans is out again’. (10)
While at Broadway MacArthur designed a bookplate (National Galleries Scotland) for Lady Maud Bowes-Lyon, aunt to Her Majesty The Queen Mother. She lived at Orchard farm in the village and frequently hosted concerts in her music room (she was an accomplished violinist) and held regular art exhibitions. (11)
One of MacArthur’s donations Pastorale, Evening may have been painted during his stay in the Cotswolds, and he exhibited thirteen paintings at The Royal Academy between 1893 and 1904. (12)
The 1901 census places MacArthur at Spencer Street, London and little is known of his whereabouts in the following few years. However, he appears to have spent time travelling as many of his paintings from this period are landscapes and seascapes of Palestine and Ceylon with a few from France. He does not appear to have dated his work.
In 1934 Lindsay married Beatrice Butts Thomson in Chelsea. Beatrice was born in 1873 in Japan to British parents. (13) Her first husband, John Leslie Thomson was a landscape artist from Aberdeen and trained at The Slade in London He was a member of The New English Art Club and requested an invitation to one of Whistler’s famous 10 0’Clock lectures. He died in 1929. (14) They lived at 1 Hornton Street, Kensington. (15)
After their marriage Lindsay and Beatrice lived at 9a St Mary Abbot’s Place, Kensington and over the next few years Lindsay exhibited at Royal Scottish Academy with landscapes of England, Galilee and Ceylon. (16)
Lindsay died in Surrey in 1945 aged 80. (17) In 1946 Beatrice was living at 37 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh and she gifted paintings to public collections around Scotland with the majority going to Kirkcaldy Galleries. Around half of the donations were painted by Lindsay Grandson MacArthur, with the remainder by her first husband John Leslie Thomson. (18) It would appear that both artists were influenced by the French Impressionists, depicting fleeting moments of time and displayed a remarkably similar style to each other.
Beatrice moved to Devon, to the market town of Honiton where she died in 1956. (19)
1. (Census, 1881, 677356) http://search.ancestry.co.uk
2. (Census, 1881, 644/9 61/21) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
3. (Births,Lindsay Grandson MacArthur 523/000023) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
4. Fiona Morrison, Bournemouth University Thesis, http://eprints.bournemouth.ac.uk/22514/
5. (Census 1871, 560/00004/00027) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
6. Glasgow Schoo; of Art, firstname.lastname@example.org
7. (Census 1891, 52300002/00001) https://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk
12. Royal Academy (email@example.com)
13. England and Wales Marriages 1837-2005, https://search.findmypast.co.ukBMD/M/1934/3/ AZ/000990/030
14. University of Glasgoe, https://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/correspondence/people/biog/?bid=Thom_JL&firstname=&surname=thomson
15. (Census 1911, 2frg), https://search.findmypast.co.uk
16. Royal Scottish Academy, https://firstname.lastname@example.org
17. England and Wales Deaths, https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=bmd1945
19. England and wales Deaths, https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=bmd2f1945