Red Roses in a Vase c.1930

by John Maclaughlin Milne

DIMENSIONS: (unframed) 24 x 20 in./61.0 x 50.8 cm
SIGNATURE: Signed lower left
MEDIUM: Oil on canvas

Catalogue No: 5593 Categories: ,

Milne is often referred to as the fifth Scottish Colourist and indeed his work and life have strong connections to his better known contemporaries. It is his French work, however, which makes the clear link with Peploe, Hunter and Cadell.  He married a Frenchwoman and lived for some time at Lavardin (Loir et Cher), famed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, but it is his Paris scenes made in the twenties and his many visits to the south which produced his best paintings.  He was in Cassis in 1924 at the same time as Peploe and Cadell and travelled along the coast as far as St Raphael. Like Fergusson he enjoyed a long, productive life and his many paintings of the hills and harbours of Arran, where he moved at the outset of the War are a distinct and important legacy.

Private Collection, Edinburgh;
Private Collection, United Kingdom

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John Maclauchlan Milne was encouraged by his father – the Scottish landscape painter Joseph Milne. His father’s influence is apparent in his early work, before his style was transformed by the Scottish Colourists and modern French painters, particularly Cézanne.

During the First World War Maclauchlan Milne left his home in Dundee to fight in France on the Western Front. France had a strong impression on the young artist. From 1919-1932 he spent long periods in France. Initially he stayed at rue des Quatre-Vents in Paris but by 1924 Milne was in Cassis with Peploe, Cadell and Duncan Grant. They also spent considerable time in San Tropez. Almost all his exhibits in the 1920’s were of Mediterranean subjects. His obituarist wrote ‘like Peploe, he saw Cézanne and was immediately conquered. Here in the Midi, Milne found himself and the impact of this new experience stamped all his subsequent work’. 

At the outbreak of the Second World War, Maclauchlan Milne returned to Scotland and settled at High Corrie on the isle of Arran. Here he painted the whitewashed cottages, the little jetty below the village and Goat Fell, the highest peak on the island. He died in Arran in 1957.

Maclauchlan Milne exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, at the Glasgow Institute and showed works in London and New York. A Centenary exhibition of his work was held at Dundee Art Gallery and Museum in 1985.

As well as enjoying the company of the Scottish Colourists and exhibiting alongside them, Milne shared many of their patrons. William Boyd, the managing director of Keiller’s marmalade firm, became one of his most important patrons. In Boyd’s home at Claremont several works by William McTaggart, Peploe, Hunter and Milne were displayed. His collection of French paintings included Monet, Sisley, Van Gogh, Matisse, Bonnard, Vuillard and de Segonzac. Alexander Keiller, head of the marmalade firm, was another important patron. He paid Milne a stipend – so that he could spend the summers in France – in return for paintings. 


The collector, Matthew Justice, was a close friend of Hunter as well as his agent during the 1920s. Justice owned around a dozen of Milne’s paintings; his sitting room was hung exclusively with works by Peploe and Milne and his drawing room contained eleven Peploes, three Marchands, one Hunter and five Milne’s. The Justice collection also included works by Vuillard, Segonzac, Moreau and Matisse. Justice was friends with William Boyd and James Tattersall, another important patron of Milne. 

Milne’s surname is often recorded as Maclaughlan Milne but his signature spelling is Maclauchlan Milne.

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