Anne Redpath is widely recognised as the doyenne of post-World War Two Scottish painting. She was born in Galashiels and trained concurrently at Edinburgh College of Art and Moray House College of Education. Redpath’s exhibiting career began in 1919 when she showed with the Edinburgh Group, before her marriage to the architect James Beattie Michie the following year.
The couple lived in France between 1920 and 1934, where their three sons were born. Redpath later declared ‘Young women often come up to me and say ‘I’m going to be like you and give up everything for painting’ – but that’s not how I see it at all. I could never have sacrificed my family to my painting and I don’t think anyone else should either. We lived in France...[for] fifteen years and I put everything I had into house and furniture and dresses and good food and people. All that’s the same as painting really, and the experience went back into art when I began painting again.’
In 1934 Redpath returned to Scotland with her children and resumed painting in earnest. Her career developed apace during the 1940s. She became renowned for her joyously coloured still-lifes which revealed not only her pleasure in objects and the decoration of her home, but also her technical prowess in the handling of oil paint. A move from Hawick to Edinburgh in 1949 secured her place within the Scottish art world professionally and personally, as she became a popular hostess in her eventual New Town apartment. Regular foreign travel provided stimulating subject matter, resulting not least in interiors and landscapes which were admired in frequent solo and group exhibitions in Scotland, England and beyond.
Redpath’s achievements were many and varied. For example, she was the first female painter to be elected a full member of the Royal Scottish Academy and was the first Scottish woman to be elected an Associate member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Her dedication to her practice was such that she learnt to paint with her left-hand whilst recovering from a coronary thrombosis. Redpath’s death in Edinburgh in 1965 was marked by a memorial exhibition organised by the Arts Council of Great Britain, which toured throughout Scotland.
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