James Johnstone

Scotland, b.1893, d.1977

Autumn Sunlight

  • Gifted to the Gallery by Ngarita C H Johnstone, 2004
  • Reproduced with permission
  • Watercolour
  • 658 x 513mm
  • 2004/16
  • 1932

James Johnstone was a multitalented artist who worked in a wide variety of media. Perhaps better known today for his design work, particularly his metal work, Johnstone was also an accomplished painter who worked in both watercolour and oil.

In this scene Johnstone focused on the massive form of a mature tree basking in the autumn sunlight. Loose, wet washes of colour are overlaid with more tightly-controlled, drier washes to achieve the detail of the tree’s foliage and trunk.

Johnstone was born in Edinburgh and in 1919 studied a wide range of subjects at the Edinburgh College of Art, including painting, metal work and stained glass. In 1926 he took up a position at the Canterbury University College School of Art and remained there until his retirement in 1958. Johnstone regularly exhibited in Christchurch, both with The Group and the Canterbury Society of Arts. His design work was in high demand and he undertook numerous commissions throughout his career.