John Murray Thomson RSA

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This collection of works in watercolour, pastel, ink and graphite are from the studio of the Scottish artist John Murray Thomson RSA (1885-1974). Thomson was a member of the Royal Scottish Academy and the Royal Society of Watercolour Artists. Focusing mainly on animals – local and exotic – with some additional Scottish landscape watercolours, this collection shows Thomson’s expert handling, capturing the life and character of the natural world.

Thomson was born in Crieff, Perthshire, receiving his early education at Morrison’s Academy, then at the Edinburgh School of Art. Endowed with a Carnegie Travelling Scholarship, he was able to tour Europe, eventually training for some time at the Académie Julian in Paris. While abroad, he began to develop an interest in animals - he is known to have worked at local zoos in order to study and draw them from life. When he returned to Scotland, he continued this passion by teaching animal drawing and painting at the Edinburgh College of Art. Gaining a reputation as an accomplished animal painter in his own right, during this time he also illustrated a number of children’s books with his wife Ellen, such as ‘'W For Wolf, Visit The Zoo By Tram Car Nos.1.12.25’ (1925) and the very popular ‘Animals We Know’ (1931).

Thomson was a prolific artist, to which this collection attests, and he exhibited frequently with a number of illustrious societies, namely the Royal Society of Watercolour Artists (appointed a member in 1917), the Royal Academy, and the Glasgow Institute. He was elected member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1957, and at some point later the ‘John Murray Thomson Award’ was set up there in order to honour ‘a promising young painter’. He died in Edinburgh in 1974. His work can be found in the Aberdeen Art Gallery, Perth Art Gallery, and the Edinburgh City Collection.