Reflections: The Light and Life of John Henry Lorimer

John Henry Lorimer, The Flight of the Swallows, oil on canvas, 1906, City Art Centre, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries

Saturday 6 November 2021 to Sunday 20 March 2022

The first exhibition dedicated to the Scottish artist John Henry Lorimer (1856-1936) will open at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh on Saturday 6 November. 

Reflections: The Light and Life of John Henry Lorimer sees almost 50 oil paintings, watercolours, sketches and objects come together in celebration of the artist's skill and creativity. 

Over the years, Scottish audiences have shown a lot of support for John Henry, voting Spring Moonlight at the Kirkcaldy Galleries and The Flight of the Swallows at the City Art Centre as their favourite paintings in the galleries' permanent collections.  Both paintings will be included in the exhibition, along with many from private collections, some of which have not been on public display for several decades. 

Further highlights include the Tate Galleries' portrait of the artist's younger brother Sir Robert Lorimer, A.R.A., as a Boy and the Musee d'Orsay's painting Grandmother's Birthday. Also known as Benedicte Grandmother's Birthday, the first painting by a Scottish artist to be bought by the French Government, is displayed with one of the chairs that features in the painting, designed by architect and furniture designer Sir Robert Lorimer. The painting was last exhibited at the Musee d'Orsay in 1989, alongside paintings by Millet, Whistler and Morisot. 

Co-curator Charlotte Lorimer said:

While artists such as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas pushed the boundaries of painting and were rejected by traditional galleries and the Paris Salon, John Henry developed a more classical style and won medals from the Salon and praise from critics. History tends to remember the rebels. But there is also a place for the quiet craftmanship of artists such as John Henry.

Co-Curator David Patterson added:

Here at the City Art Centre, we are really excited to be hosting the first ever major exhibition dedicated to the work of John Henry Lorimer. His work, which is so often overlooked in favour of his more radical contemporaries, is technically brilliant and his elegant interiors and light-filled landscapes will uplift everyone's spirits during the winter months. 

Culture and Communities Convener Councillor Donald Wilson, said:  

I’m delighted that the City Art Centre is able to showcase this fantastic exhibition of the rarely seen works of John Henry Lorimer. It’s incredible to think this is the first exhibition dedicated to him since his passing in 1936.  Reflections: The Light and Life of John Henry Lorimer will take visitors on a journey of his work through five themes of light, identity, family, femininity and home.  Not only will it be an opportunity to celebrate his work, there are pieces from both public and private collections, the majority of which have not been on public display in decades!  

Culture and Communities Vice Convener Councillor Amy McNeese-Mechan said:

We’re excited to be exhibiting the first retrospective of John Henry's work. A technically gifted, but somewhat forgotten artist, this is a chance for audiences to discover his work and learn about the artist himself and the role he played in Scottish art history.  Alongside the exhibition there will be a programme of events and we look forward to revealing more details soon.

In order to protect and maintain the safety of our visitors and staff, the City Art Centre has introduced a range of safety measures and procedures throughout the venue, including a one-way system, installation of screens at reception, hand sanitiser stations, extra barriers and signage. Staff will be wearing face coverings while offering visitors a very warm, socially distanced welcome.

Reflections: The Light and Life of John Henry Lorimer at the City Art Centre opens on Saturday 6 November 2021, and runs until 20 March 2022. Admission is free.

Reflections: the Light and Life of John Henry Lorimer has been generously supported by The Lorimer Society, The Inches Carr Trust, The Binks Trust, The East Fife Members Centre and all those who contributed to our crowdfunding campaign.

Published: September 10th 2021