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Finished 20 March 2022


Reflections: The light and life of John Henry Lorimer, held in 2022, was the first exhibition dedicated to Scottish artist John Henry Lorimer (1856-1936). The exhibition saw almost fifty oil paintings, watercolours, sketches and objects come together at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh and explored Lorimer’s art through five themes: Light, Identity, Family, Femininity and Home.

Over the years, the Scottish public has shown a lot of support for Lorimer, voting Spring Moonlight at the Kirkcaldy Galleries and The Flight of the Swallows at the City Art Centre as their favourite paintings in the galleries’ permanent collections. Both paintings were included in the exhibition, along with many from private collections, some of which had not been on public display for several decades.


Further highlights included the Tate Galleries’ portrait of the artist’s younger brother Sir Robert Lorimer, A.R.A., as a Boy and the Musée d’Orsay’s painting Grandmother’s Birthday, also known as Bénédicité. Grandmother’s Birthday was the first painting by a Scottish artist to be bought by the French Government. It was displayed with one of the chairs that features in the painting, designed by architect and furniture designer Sir Robert Lorimer.


Co-curator Charlotte Lorimer said: “While artists such as Claude Monet and Edgar Degas pushed the boundaries of painting and were rejected by traditional galleries and the Paris Salon, Lorimer developed a more classical style and won medals from the Salon and praise from critics. History tends to remember the rebels. But there’s also a place for the quiet craftsmanship of artists such as Lorimer.”


Co-curator David Patterson added: “Here at the City Art Centre, we are really excited to be hosting the first ever major exhibition devoted to the work of John Henry Lorimer. His work, which is so often overlooked in favour of his more radical contemporaries, is technically brilliant and his elegant interiors and light-filled landscapes will uplift everyone’s spirits during the winter months.” 

The exhibition was supported by a full programme of events, including talks and tours. Several of the talks are still available via our YouTube channel.




Reflections Book

A book of essays, Reflections - The light and life of John Henry Lorimer, is published by Sansom & Company to accompany the exhibition. It is available at £20 from the City Art Centre shop and all good booksellers.

The book explores the themes of Light, Identity, Family, Femininity and Home through essays by Elizabeth Cumming (former curator of Edinburgh’s City Art Centre and an honorary professor at the University of Edinburgh); Martin Kemp (Emeritus Professor in the History of Art, Trinity College, Oxford, and former Professor of the History of Art at St. Andrews); Antonia Laurence Allen (Regional Curator for Edinburgh and East at the National Trust for Scotland); Charlotte Lorimer (co-curator of the exhibition); Monica Lorimer (grew up at Kellie among the works of her creative family); Robin Lorimer (architect, studied at Beaux Arts and Architectural Association, practised in Paris, London and Glasgow and was a lecturer at Mackintosh School of Architecture); and Duncan Macmillan (emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh, art critic and art historian).

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