David West, RSW (1868-1936) 

David West, RSW (1868–1936) was a watercolour painter of land, sea and sky. He was born on 12 November 1868 in Lossiemouth, the youngest of 12 children, and died 8 October 1936 in Glasgow following a seizure.

West was the son of Captain James West, commander of a sailing schooner. From 1889 to 1894, West exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Academy in London. That five-year period saw him being accepted for the Royal Academy on successive years.

When still in his twenties he had won for himself a wide reputation as a watercolour landscape painter. In 1892 he was commissioned by the Countess of Aberdeen to undertake a number of paintings for her. He was well rewarded by the Countess and so in early 1893 he traveled to the Netherlands to study Dutch art. He returned that same year to Lossiemouth and set up a studio. In 1897, this studio burned down and he lost many paintings including several that he had done in oils.

It was soon after this that he left for British Columbia to take part in the Klondike Gold Rush. He returned to Lossiemouth in November 1898 with numerous sketches and photographs and exhibited four of his Klondike paintings at the RSA the following year.

 

West’s paintings were largely of Morayshire scenes but one of his most famous paintings was the Dutch landscape “On the Scheldt” which was hung in Edinburgh in 1932.

He was elected as Vice-President of the RSW in 1935.

He died on 7 October 1936 in Glasgow while attending the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts where he had several paintings on show. Two paintings were posthumously exhibited at the same venue in 1937.

As a painter of the sea, the sandy wastes and the sky along the Moray Firth coast, and of old sailing boats he was unsurpassed. His work continues to be sought after at auction demonstrating the quality of his work. His paintings were always an accurate depiction of the view.

Most of his work has a characteristic low skyline. This allowed West to show the wide range of light effects on the Moray Firth water. This depiction of water and sky while at the same time depicting the accurate images of the fishing towns (mainly, but not exclusively, Lossiemouth) was a hallmark of his painting. He could paint his beloved Moray Firth in all its moods, whether it be calm or stormy. His landscape paintings are equally appealing capturing the colours of the Morayshiremoorland, the abundant whins and cloud formations.

Mainly known for his watercolours he also possessed great skill in oil painting and the painting of miniatures. In 1923, he was invited to produce a painting to be hung in Queen Mary's dollhouse designed by the architect Sir Edwin Lutyens for Queen Mary.

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