9th May, 2024 10:00

The Scottish Contemporary Art Auction

Lot 48


oil on canvas, signed, titled and dated 1979 verso
framed and under glass

image size 46cm x 61cm, overall size 55cm x 71cm

Note: James Watt was born in Port Glasgow in 1931 to Alexander Watt and his wife Isabella (nee Hooper). His entire family, including his grandfather, and everybody he knew, were in shipbuilding. He was always passionate about boats. He believed he was very lucky. "I was in the right place at the right time. I caught the tail-end of the Clydeside shipbuilding boom in the 1950s. Shipyards had full order-books and the river teemed with craft of every sort. So I always had a subject”. His paintings are in a formidable array of collections – including those of HM The Queen and Prince Philip, The Princess Royal, The Arts Council, The Hunterian, Glasgow Museums, Paisley Museum & Art Gallery, IBM, Britoil, the Danish Embassy, Yarrow Shipbuilders, McKean Museum and Art Gallery, Clyde Shipping Co, the Royal Bank of Scotland and also the town council in the Faroes. Watt went to Glasgow School of Art for four years where he was taught by Ted Odling, Douglas Percy Bliss, and David Donaldson. In 1958 he was one of 13 founders of the Glasgow Group, an artists' co-operative which continues to this day. Irritated by the conformist, unadventurous policies of local exhibiting societies like the Royal Scottish Academy and the RGI, and at the dearth of commercial outlets in the city, they got together with other GSA students and graduates to exhibit at Glasgow’s then-beautiful McLellan Galleries. The Glasgow Group was the Transmission Gallery of its day. After two years National Service in the army, from 1955 to 1957 he became an art teacher, and a much-beloved one at that. He was noted for his kindness and good counsel, and one former student says of him: "I had pretty much zero talent but he sparked a lifelong love and interest in art." Another remembered “His was the fastest-moving Volvo down the school drive. He was some man." Later Watt became a member of the RGI and was elected a member of Society of Scottish Artists in 1965. In 1997 he received The Royal Bank of Scotland Award at the Glasgow Institute. He dedicated much of his life to recording the River Clyde and its industries, and his vast body of work forms a vital archive of the river. Greenock's McLean Museum and Art Gallery exhibition, The Lost Clyde: The Paintings of James Watt, was mounted to celebrate his 90th birthday. James was also the father of Alison Watt OBE FRSE RSA, one of Britain's best-known painters.


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Sold for £220
Estimated at £200 - £400

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