About this artwork

This view of Oban shows the curve of the esplanade that surrounds the horseshoe-shape of the harbour. By 1893 when Guthrie painted this, Oban was a bustling town. The railways helped the town to benefit from tourism, and its location on the west coast meant that its harbour not only served as the gateway to the Isles, but also became thriving industrial port. Goods were shipped between Oban and the big southern cities of Glasgow and Liverpool. In this nocturnal scene, Guthrie has avoided detail in favour of atmospheric effect.

Sir James Guthrie

Sir James Guthrie

Guthrie became one of the leading painters in the group of artists called the Glasgow Boys. His early works of rural subjects painted with broad square brush strokes show the strong influence of French painters such as Bastien-Lepage. Guthrie was born in Greenock and trained as a lawyer before turning to art. After brief but stimulating periods in London and Paris, he committed himself to painting directly from nature in Scotland. Guthrie also experimented with pastel drawings and established a reputation as a successful portrait painter. He became president of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1902 and was knighted the following year.