Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/McDonald, John Blake

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McDONALD, JOHN BLAKE (1829–1901), Scottish artist, son of James McDonald, wood merchant, was born at Boharm, Morayshire, on 24 May 1829. He was educated there, but, going to Edinburgh with a taste for art, he entered the academy of the Board of Trustees in Edinburgh in 1853. He proved a good student both then and later in the life school of the Royal Scottish Academy, where in 1862 he won the first prize for painting from the life. But retaining much of the chiaroscuro of the earlier school, and being, in spite of a certain dexterity and force of execution, heavy in handling and dull in colour, his pictures lacked the charm and fine quality which mark those of Lauder's best pupils. They were effective, however, and popular, for most of the more important dealt with dramatic or picturesque episodes in highland history or Jacobite romance, and in 1862 he was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and academician in 1877. In 1874 he was in Venice, where he painted a number of pictures, and after 1878 he practically abandoned figure for landscape, in which he did some vigorous work of the transcript kind in both oil and water-colour. One of his best pictures, 'Prince Charlie leaving Scotland,' is in the Albert Institute, Dundee, and his diploma work, 'Glencoe, 1692,' is also a characteristic example. Dying in Edinburgh on 20 Dec. 1901, he was survived by his second wife and a grown-up family.

[Scotsman, 21 Dec. 1901; R.S.A. Report, 1902; Nat. Gall. of Scotland Cat.]

J. L. C.