The Glasgow Boys revolutionised painting in Scotland by bringing it into the mainstream of European art. ‘The Boys’ were young Scottish artists who looked to France for their inspiration – ‘the auld alliance’ – and many of them studied in Paris. One group met up in Grez-sur-Loing where they painted together using the ‘square brush technique’ influenced by Jules Bastien Lepage. Other members of the group came together through old friendships – Paterson and MacGregor had known each other at school, while Guthrie and Walton were old friends.
They soon established a vigorous style of oil painting using large square brushes and thick paint with bold colours.
Watercolour also played a major part with works by Walton, Lavery, Henry and Crawhall. Maybe the finest watercolourist of all was Arthur Melville.
Japanese prints were also an important influence and Henry and Hornel actually visited Japan to paint its landscape and people. The work of Whistler was also an influence on a number of the Glasgow Boys who appreciated his thin paint and delicate touch, as well as his brilliant use of pastel.
The work of the Glasgow Boys is surprisingly fresh and modern and is very popular today – as witnessed by the success of the recent exhibition at the Royal Academy.