The collection encompasses work from throughout his artistic life; early scenes of his marital home in Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket across his travels in Scotland and Europe to the more flamboyant studio pieces and still lifes of his later career.
Born in Lochwinnoch to a family of furniture designers, McClure initially undertook studies at the University of Glasgow in English & History, where he also developed a keen interest in philosophy. His studies were interrupted by war service, during which he was conscripted into the coal mines as a ‘Bevin Boy.’ Throughout the War he painted and drew prolifically, which appears to have consolidated his interest in the visual arts, and in 1947 he enrolled at Edinburgh College of Art. It was here that he established many important connections in the Scottish arts scene, not only in his contemporaries including James Cumming, William Baillie, John Houston, Elizabeth Blackadder and David Michie, but also through exposure to the influence of major figures such as Anne Redpath, William Gillies, John Maxwell, William MacTaggart and Robert Henderson Blyth. McClure’s work aligns with this wider twentieth-century Scottish painting tradition characterised by a strong use of colour and confident handling of paint.
An accomplished student, he was rewarded with travelling scholarships which took him to Italy, Sicily and Spain. These experiences would prove to be formative and had a profound influence on McClure’s rich use of colour and receptiveness to Folk Art for the rest of his career. It also introduced the young artist to the importance of painting while travelling, both around the UK and abroad. Within this collection are a group of works from an important painting trip to Millport that McClure made in the winter of 1955/56 with his wife and young son. He managed to capture some of the landscape of the island as planned, but the particularly bitter weather conditions prolonged their time inside and resulted in these striking pen and ink drawings of hedgerow gatherings set inside their rented cottage. In contrast, an invitation from the Norwegian government allowed the family to spend two months of a hot summer there in 1963, where McClure painted his wife and muse Joyce in ‘Figure and Flowers.’ As well as enabling them to travel, McClure’s artistic vision had an impact on the whole family; when discussing the painting ‘Fruit and Garlic’ his daughter Paola reflected:
The palette of hot earth colours offset by sharp notes such as emerald and blue is a thread that runs through many of dad’s works. It was a palette our mum loved so much that on one occasion she went to a local wool shop armed with a similar but smaller work to ask if the colours could be matched to yarns for her to use in her own knitting. Various garments resulted, one of which, a richly striped ‘balloon dress’ raised a few eyebrows when I wore it to my graduation in the early 1980s – the expectation at the time being for the regulation white blouse and black skirt.
Teaching was also a significant part of McClure’s life. He initially worked at E.C.A., but was soon recruited by Alberto Morrocco to teach at Duncan of Jordanstone. On acceptance of the role McClure quickly adopted Dundee as his home city, where he and his family would remain for the rest of his life. As well as painting and his passionate commitment to teaching, McClure also maintained an interest in art history and philosophy and read widely throughout his life. He often made knowing art-historical references in his artworks, such as in ‘More Pears’ where he singles out the precariously placed basket of fruit at the front of the table on Caravaggio’s ‘Supper at Emmaus,’ and depicts his own version with characteristic vibrancy.
As this collection demonstrates, McClure’s artistic approach was generally jubilant, engaging with the visual and emotional joys of life with his signature vibrant palette and an expressive, fluid approach. The works sing out and ask us to revel in their celebration of life.
Lyon & Turnbull are delighted to offer Modern and Contemporary editioned prints and multiples within our Contemporary & Post-War Art // Prints & Multiples and MODERN MADE auctions.
An exciting and developing area of the market, Prints & Multiples are popular with new and seasoned collectors alike.
At Lyon & Turnbull, we handle prints from a wide variety of artists: from 20th century masters Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and Joan Miro through to the British canon of printmakers including Dame Laura Knight, L.S. Lowry, Edward Bawden, all the way to David Hockney and Howard Hodgkin. Our auctions encompass printmaking created up to and including the present day, with artists currently working in these mediums, such as Tracey Emin, David Shrigley, Banksy and the Connor Brothers.
Characterised by competitive bidding, strong results and a high selling rate, our Contemporary & Post-War Art sales are among our most popular auctions. Held three times a year in our Scottish saleroom, highlights are also regularly exhibited in our London gallery. Our strong private client base and excellent international marketing reach has seen these sales grow into flagships of our company.
Encompassing works by both emerging and internationally regarded contemporary artists and sculptors, we have achieved top prices for household names including John Hoyland (a world record), Bridget Riley, Eduardo Paolozzi (a world record for a sculpture), Terry Frost, Nicholas Party, Alison Watt and Callum Innes. Regularly featured local favourites include John Bellany and the ‘New Glasgow Boys’ Peter Howson, Ken Currie, Steven Campbell, as well as John Byrne and Alasdair Gray.
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