About this artwork

“The greatest naval surrender in the world's history” was how the Glasgow Herald recorded the surrender of the German fleet in the Firth of Forth on 21 November 1918. It signalled not only the end of German naval power but also the public humiliation of the country that Britain had fought bitterly for four long years. Some seventy journalists, press photographers and marine painters flocked to Edinburgh to witness “a triumph to which history knows no parallel.” Among them was James Paterson. The artist watched the surrender from the deck of HMS Revenge. This painting is an accurate record of what happened that day. The sun rising through the haze and fog creates a beautiful glow across the water, contrasting against the aggressive forms of the camouflaged vessels.

  • title: The German fleet after surrender, Firth of Forth, 21 November 1918
  • accession number: PG 2733
  • artist: James PatersonScottish (1854 - 1932)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: World Wars The sea
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1918
  • measurements: 71.30 x 91.50 cm (framed: 90.10 x 100.60 x 7.00 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1988
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

James Paterson

James Paterson

Paterson is often categorised as one of the so-called Glasgow Boys, but his work differed from that of other artists in this group because he created mainly pure landscapes in which figures only ever played minor roles. After studying at Glasgow School of Art and in Paris, Paterson travelled in France and Italy. He enthusiastically encouraged the publication in 1888, of the short-lived journal 'The Scottish Art Review'. He left Glasgow in 1884, and settled in Moniaive, Dumfriesshire with his wife. Paterson continued his long-established friendship with William York MacGregor and finally moved to Edinburgh in 1905, becoming a prominent member of the Royal Scottish Academy.