James Kay’s Glasgow Exhibition 1901 is a lively pastel scene showing elegantly dressed women gathered in the grounds of the international exhibition which took place in the city that year.

The aim of the event was to highlight the world’s progress during the 19th century by showing art, inventions and other products from around the globe. Kay’s picture shows the new buildings constructed for the exhibition, including the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in the background. Kay was born on the Isle of Arran and trained at Glasgow School of Art. In the late 1880s he began to establish a reputation for lively, loose paintings influenced by the development of Impressionism in France. He spent time living and working in Paris, where he painted street scenes and exhibited at the Salon of 1894. He also had a loose association with the Glasgow Boys, a group of Scottish artists who were influenced by developments on the Continent. Kay’s Glasgow Exhibition 1901 has particular relevance to the Hunterian, a museum with a strong collection of work by Scottish artists linked to the city. Among its holdings are other depictions of the 1901 international exhibition, including a painting by William Kennedy of the Kelvingrove Gallery and etchings by Muirhead Bone of the main buildings, gardens and amusements constructed for the event. The Hunterian owns three other works by Kay, all of Continental scenes, and this pastel now joins them there.


With Fine Art Society, Edinburgh, August 1971; purchased by private owner; Christie's The Scottish Sale 25 May 2007 (lot 154); purchased by Cyril Gerber Fine Art

Back to top