John Duncan RSA RSW (1866-1945)

The Scottish painter and illustrator John Duncan was born in Dundee, and studied there at the School of Art. He then came to London for three years working as an illustrator, afterwards studyingd briefly at the School of Verlat, Antwerp, and then Dusseldorf. From 1892 onwards, he was mainly based in Edinburgh, though sending some pictures to the Royal Academy in London. He became ARSA in 1910, RSA in 1923, and RSW in 1930.

Duncan was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelites, Celtic imagery, and symbolism. His own work included many pictures showing myth and legend, also Symbolist work, and a few (eg Riders of the Sidhe) in a late Pre-Raphaelite manner. Other subjects included landscapes showing the island of Iona, and uneven attempts at na´ve painting. His illustrations are Beardsley-like, with cruel femme-fatales, and Celtic style images, showing a powerful use of the contrast of black and white. He also designed murals and stained glass, and worked in tempera.

Duncan's works may be seen at Edinburgh (including the important Tristram and Isolde), Dundee (Riders of the Sidhe) and Glasgow (The Coming of Bride), but I have not seen any in English galleries.

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