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Anne Redpath
Dates: British, 1895 - 1965
Biographical Account:

Oxford artist biography

Redpath, Anne (1895–1965), painter, the second child of Thomas Brown Redpath (1863–1933), a tweed pattern weaver, and his wife, Agnes Milne, was born at 89 Scott Street, in the mill town of Galashiels, Selkirkshire, on 29 March 1895. Thomas Redpath's four children were given a strictly nonconformist upbringing. As the daughter of a tweed designer, Anne Redpath gained an early understanding of colour and texture. Years later describing the weaver's technique of colour flecking used for scumbling she explained: 'I do with a spot of red or yellow in a harmony of grey, what my father did in his tweed' (Anne Redpath, 1). She attended Hawick high school (1901–13) and in 1913 enrolled at Edinburgh College of Art. Parental permission for this course was granted with the proviso that she should concurrently train as an art teacher at Moray House, Edinburgh, where she qualified in 1917. Instruction at Edinburgh College of Art was rigorous and academic; among her tutors were Henry Linlott, Robert Burns, and D. M. Sutherland. Anne Redpath gained her diploma in 1917 and after a postgraduate year was awarded a travelling scholarship which, in 1919, enabled her to visit Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Florence, and Siena. She returned profoundly impressed by the works of the Sienese primitives.


On 21 September 1920 Anne Redpath married at Teviothead church James Beattie Michie (1891–1958), a young architect about to take up an appointment with the Imperial War Graves Commission in northern France. The house at St Martin, Pas-de-Calais, where their first two sons were born, was large and their finances strained. It was then that Anne Redpath began to decorate simple furniture with bright flowers, birds, and garlands, which later featured in her still-life paintings. Her family was her primary concern but by 1921 she had produced sufficient work, mainly watercolours in muted tones, for an exhibition at St Omer. Some years later James Michie became architect to a millionaire in the south of France. A third son was born and the family lived in idyllic surroundings at St Raphael and St Jean, Cap Ferrat. Anne Redpath's painting output was sparse but she maintained artistic contacts. The painter William Mactaggart who had been a fellow student at Edinburgh was a frequent visitor. In 1928 she exhibited at the casino at St Raphael.


In 1934 James Michie's employer lost his fortune. Anne Redpath and her sons returned to Hawick and James Michie found work in London. Soon after her return she began to show at the Royal Scottish Academy and in many group exhibitions. Many of her paintings at that time were competent landscapes of views around Hawick often recorded in her 'Notes from Nature' sketchbooks and painted in her studio. But it was in a domestic setting that her highly individual viewpoint expressed her affection for familiar household objects. Cups, jugs, teapots, and flowers disconcertingly displayed on a tilting table-top became characteristic of her style. The pure and effortless quality of her painting, particularly in the handling of white, could make a collection of flowers lyrical, almost ethereal. Early in the 1940s Redpath created one of her most significant works, The Indian Rug ('Red Slippers'; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh). This painting signalled a release of ideas long held in reserve and presaged a new and liberated approach. The placing of a vivid red chair, comfortable slippers, and folk-art rug clearly defined on a black background and formalized into a flat surface pattern demonstrates her mastery of structure. The boldly painted Still Life with Orange Chair (1944; priv. coll.) also exemplifies a sense of continuity with the Scottish colourists Francis Cadell and Samuel Peploe.


From 1944 to 1947 Redpath was president of the Scottish Society of Women Artists. She became an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1947 and in 1952 was the first woman painter to be elected academician. Critical acclaim for her exhibition at the Scottish Gallery in 1950 brought public recognition for the distinction of her work but Redpath's vision was never static; she was responsive to post-war art movements and like Matisse, whom she admired, pursued her own rigorous path.


A journey to remote northern Spain in 1951 called for new strengths in Redpath's work. Her style radically altered becoming more emotive and her palette sombre reflecting the stark landscape and poverty of the hill villages as in Rain in Spain-Ubeda (1951; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh). Subsequent visits to Corsica, Brittany, and the Canary Islands released fresh colour harmonies; rich chestnut browns, purples, and rare pinks surged from her brush. The resultant landscapes, painted with new urgency and expressionist fervour, were enthusiastically received at the Scottish Gallery's 1960 Edinburgh festival exhibition.


In 1955 Anne Redpath became an OBE and was also granted an honorary LLD by Edinburgh University. The following year she attended a comprehensive exhibition of her work in the four main galleries of the Royal West of England Academy in Bristol. She became an academician of that society in 1959 and an associate of the Royal Academy in 1960. Redpath paintings were acquired by the Tate Gallery and many public collections. In her lifetime there were frequent exhibitions in Britain; she enjoyed the ensuing celebrity, wearing spectacular hats and designer clothes and talking with animation at convivial gatherings. On one occasion she discussed volubly with Chagall in fluent French the joys of being 'an old peasant' (Bourne, 54). This light-hearted acceptance of fame contrasts with her solemn self-portrait in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh (another is in the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum) which indicates her steady contemplative nature. She was deeply interested in world affairs from which she felt that art should not be isolated. Many guests remember evenings spent in her colourful room among bright pictures and painted furniture discussing art, politics, and social justice. Her generous spirit and engagement with humanity give even her lesser works a life-enhancing quality. The mature paintings of golden baroque altars and richly glowing church interiors in Lisbon and Venice painted in her last years are considered by many to be her finest achievements. Earlier heart attacks had brought grave health warnings but, undaunted, Anne Redpath's determination to develop her work never faltered. Such inspired commitment and sustained vitality have ensured her an enduring place in the history of twentieth-century Scottish painting. Following a fall in her Edinburgh home, 7 London Street, Anne Redpath died on 7 January 1965 at 19 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, and was cremated on 9 January at Warriston crematorium, Edinburgh. Her work is represented in public collections in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, and Preston, as well as in London and several Commonwealth galleries. - Ruth Jones

Published in print: 23 September 2004

Published online: 23 September 2004

This version: 28 September 2006,

Scottish painter. She was born in Galashiels, the daughter of a tweed designer (she later described how she used flecks of colour in a manner similar to tweed makers: ‘I do with a spot of red or yellow in a harmony of grey, what my father did in his tweed’). In 1913 she studied at Edinburgh College of Art and in 1920 she married James Beattie Michie, an architect with the War Graves Commission in France, where they lived for the next fourteen years.


During this time she did little painting, devoting herself to her family (she had three sons). In 1934 she returned to Scotland, living first in Hawick and then from 1949 in Edinburgh (she became gradually estranged from her husband, who worked in London). From the 1950s she attained a distinguished position in the Scottish art world and was awarded various honours. Her main subjects were landscapes and still-lifes, richly coloured and broadly handled in the tradition of the *Scottish Colourists (in her later work there is sometimes a hint of *Expressionism). She travelled a good deal, painting landscapes in, for example, Spain and Portugal.

Text Source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press),

Anne Redpath (1895 – 1965)

A prominent career as a painter led her to be the first woman to become an Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy and an influential member of the Scottish art world.

Born in Scotland and moving from Galashiels to Hawick aged 6, Anne Redpath was a Scottish artist whose vivid domestic still lifes remain her best-known works. She found inspiration in her father’s work as a tweed designer in the Scottish Borders, seeing a connection between his use of colour and her own. Redpath was most notably influenced by both Matisse and Bonnard.

Broadening horizons

Aged 18, Anne Redpath began her studies at Edinburgh College of Art under Robert Burns, Henry Lintott and D. M. Sutherland. After completing a postgraduate degree in 1919 she was awarded a scholarship which allowed her to travel to Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Florence and Siena.


This nurtured both her interest in 14th century Italian painting and her love of travel. Her trips abroad had a significant impact on her life and work, most notably in inspiring her to incorporate new colour palates into her paintings.

Work–life balance

In 1920 she married James Michie, an architect, and moved to France where they started a family and had three sons. At this time Redpath committed very little time to painting, instead choosing to focus on family life. Despite this, she still produced enough works to exhibit in both 1921 and 1928.


On her return to Scotland in 1934 she started to sketch the countryside around Hawick where her work took on a more muted look than seen previously, often favouring a limited palette with a few brighter colours used to enliven the composition.


Once back in Scotland, she began exhibiting in Edinburgh and became president of the Scottish Society of Women Artists from 1944 to 1947. During this time Redpath became a distinguished member of the Scottish art world, forming many enduring friendships including fruitful working relationships with The Scottish Gallery, who hosted her first solo exhibition, and Reid and Lefevre in London.


She established herself as one of the great figures of 20th century Scottish painting, being linked to the Scottish Colourists and becoming a pivotal figure in the group of painters now referred to as The Edinburgh School.

Talent recognised

Moving into Edinburgh in 1949, Redpath spent many periods of her later life regularly travelling throughout Europe. The Royal Scottish Academy admitted her as an associate in the late 1940s and she became the first woman Academician in 1952. She was awarded an OBE in 1955 for her work as an artist and for her time spent as a, Member of the Board of Management of the Edinburgh College of Art.


Her work is still highly regarded today and can be seen at many galleries across the country, including as part of the Tate collection.,

Anne Redpath OBE RSA ARA ARWS (1895-1965)

Born in Galashiels in 1895, Redpath was brought up in Hawick and later studied at Edinburgh College of Art under Robert Burns and Henry Lintott. Redpath showed her exceptional talent as an artist at a young age and in 1919 she won a travelling scholarship, enabling her to travel throughout Europe before returning to the Borders. Redpath is often considered the pivotal figure in the group of painters now referred to as The Edinburgh School.


After a lengthy spell in the south of France, Redpath returned to Hawick in the mid-1930s. Her brilliant manipulation of paint, left in delicious peaks or eked across a rough surface with a palette knife, is characteristic of her oeuvre.


Redpath was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1947 and was the first woman to be elected as a full member, in 1952. Redpath exhibited regularly at the Royal Scottish Academy, the Society of Scottish Artist's, the Royal Glasgow Institute and, from 1946 at the Royal Academy. In 1960 she was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy having already been awarded the OBE in 1955, the same year that she was awarded an honorary Doctorate from Edinburgh University.


Redpath had considerable commercial success in her lifetime enjoying a fruitful, consistent relationship with Aitken & Dott in Edinburgh and latterly with Reid & Lefevre in London. Since her death, Redpath’s reputation has been further enhanced with retrospective and centenary exhibitions  and she is now firmly established as one of the most celebrated figures in 20th Century Scottish Painting.
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