Alexander Jamieson was born in Glasgow and studied at the Haldane Academy before winning a scholarship to Paris. It was there, in 1898, that he came into contact with the work of the French Impressionists, whose bravura brushwork and preoccupation with the effects of light and atmosphere were to be his chief painterly concerns for the remainder of his life. It was also in Paris that he met the painter Gertrude (Biddy) Macdonald. They were married in 1907 and continued to live in London until 1914, when Alexander joined the 10th York and Lancaster regiment as Quartermaster. After being demobilised in 1919, the couple moved with their daughter, Katharine, to a cottage in Weston Turville, Buckinghamshire.
In a review of Jamieson’s memorial exhibition in 1938, Jan Gordon identified a stylistic distinction between those paintings executed prior to the Great War, and those executed afterwards. Those before she categorised as “substance”, reflecting the influence of Manet; those afterwards she categorised as “shadow”, reflecting the increased importance to the artist in that period of capturing the effects of light and atmosphere and the greater influence of Monet and Constable.
It was not only stylistic concerns that changed after the war. To augment a meagre income, the Jamiesons decided to teach, at home and abroad, and gave sketching classes every summer.
The destinations of these summer painting trips are largely unrecorded, other than by the evidence of the exhibited paintings themselves, but it seems that the Jamiesons revisited with their students a number of the French and Belgian harbours, towns and gardens on which Alexander’s reputation had been built prior to the war.
In his foreword to Jamieson’s memorial exhibition, Sir John Lavery wrote, “He dipped his brush in light and air … Many a time … I have been struck by his wonderful perception and clear judgement, his keen sense of colour and composition, allied with masterly technique, which enabled him to convey his impression in the simplest language.”Literature:James Bolivar Manson, ‘The Paintings of Alexander Jamieson’, The Studio, vol. 49, 1910, pp.274-82