Sir Herbert James Gunn

Thomas Johnston, 1881 - 1965. Statesman (About 1955)

About this artwork

Tom Johnston was a historian, journalist and left-wing politician who served as Secretary of State for Scotland during the Second World War. Born in Kirkintilloch, he studied at the University of Glasgow where he helped launch the socialist journal, ‘Forward’, in 1906. He first entered the Commons in 1922 and served as an MP for various constituencies. He was appointed Scotland’s Regional Commissioner for Civil Defence in 1939 and Secretary of State for Scotland in Churchill’s coalition government of 1941. After retiring from politics in 1945, Johnston became chairman of several bodies, including the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. This portrait shows Johnston aged about seventy-five, in a characteristic navy blue double-breasted suit and bow tie.

Sir Herbert James Gunn

Sir Herbert James Gunn

Glasgow-born artist (Herbert) James Gunn briefly studied art at Glasgow and Edinburgh before moving to the Académie Julian in Paris in 1911. After serving with the 10th Scottish Rifles in the First World War, Gunn returned to Scotland where he married twice within a decade. His second wife, Pauline Miller, became a model for some of his best-known paintings. In 1929 Gunn decided to devote himself to portraiture and soon established a prolific and successful career in London. His portraits are sometimes sombre but always carefully painted, with close attention to detail. His distinguished sitters included Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and the Queen Mother. Yet official recognition was slow to come, and only in 1961 was Gunn finally made a member of the Royal Academy.