John Maxwell

Harbour with Three Boats (1934)

About this artwork

Maxwell was influenced by primitive art and the work of Paul Klee. The artist helped to organise a Klee exhibition in Edinburgh in the same year as this work was painted. In common with these influences, Maxwell's own art shows a disregard for perspective, a directness, and a selective approach to detail. Maxwell’s painting of this time shares many similarities with the work of William Gillies. They went on painting excursions together and often depicted similar subjects. This painting depicts a Fife fishing village and shows Maxwell’s skilful and playful draughtsmanship.

  • title: Harbour with Three Boats
  • accession number: GMA 3342
  • artist: John MaxwellScottish (1905 - 1962)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Harbours and quays
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1934
  • measurements: 71.30 x 87.70 cm
  • credit line: George and Isobel Neillands Collection: presented 1987
  • copyright: © By Permission of the Maxwell family
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

John Maxwell

John Maxwell

Maxwell was born in Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbrightshire. He attended Edinburgh College of Art from 1921 to 1926 and then travelled in Europe for a year. For a short period he, like several other Scottish artists of his generation, studied in Paris, where he experimented with a cubist style before settling on a more conventional style of painting. In 1929 Maxwell began teaching at Edinburgh College of Art, where he became a colleague of William Gillies, who often accompanied him on painting holidays. In the 1950s Maxwell painted an extended series of semi-abstract still lifes, reminiscent of the work of Braque.