JAMES KAY R.S.A., R.S.W. (SCOTTISH 1858-1942)
DAZZLE SHIPS ON THE CLYDE
Signed, oil on board
24cm x 34cm (9.5in x 13.5in) Estimate £ 2,000-3,000 + fees Note:
Born on the Isle of Arran in 1858, James Kay is known for his dynamic and energetic industrial seascapes. In his early years he worked in Glasgow where he shared a studio with David Gauld and Stuart Park.
Although not considered a Glasgow Boy, he remained a close associate of those artists throughout his career. Similarly to his contemporaries, Kay worked and lived in Paris where he absorbed the mood and vitality of the French Impressionists. He was also greatly influenced by The Hague School, which manifests in his realist manner and the use of dark and grey tones. In 1894 Kay first exhibited in the Paris Salon and also achieved some popularity in Holland with his coastal paintings and townscapes.
Kay was an enthusiastic traveller and drew inspiration from his extensive travels, however the sea remained his foremost fascination. Rather than romanticising the sea Kay depicts the honest atmosphere of the bustling industrial city. Kay's mastery lies in his ability to capture the energy and drama of the docks.
Although he shared many of the same influences as his contemporaries Kay was successful in creating his own unique artistic vision and his work was highly regarded both in Scotland and abroad. He was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters alongside winning gold medals of the Société des Artistes Français and at Rouen. Dazzle Ships on the Clyde
is an example of one of Kay's exemplary industrial seascapes. The broad loose brushstrokes and bright tones reflect his Impressionist influence however the subject of the piece brings it back to Britain. Separating the vast sky and sea is a small fleet of dazzle ships. Dazzle camouflage was introduced in 1914 as a system of distorting the appearance of British ships in order to confuse the enemy submarines. The nature of the design, consisting of interlocking and contrasting colours, was heavily indebted to Cubism. The painting demonstrates Kay's energetic style and confidence in creating a sense of vitality and drama in his scenes.