The artist was born in Edinburgh, elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy, and moved to London. “MacWhirter’s preference was for peaceful and poetic landscapes. At first he attempted Pre-Raphaelite detail, but later abandoned this for a broader style. Travelled widely in Europe and America." — Christopher Wood, p. 336

In later years he was apt to be somewhat meretricious and mannered. He dealt always with beautiful material — too much search for the beauty-spot all over the world was perhaps his failing— but he painted his subject with the sympathy and clarity which appeal to many who find more imaginative and interpretative art a stumbling-block. To say that is not to gainsay the deftness and charm of much of his water-colour work, done in happy and holiday mood. He himself told me how, in his younger days, Ruskin encouraged him to make precise, almost miniature water-colours of flowers; and that teaching, no doubt, was the root of June in the Austrian Tyrol and similar pictures. — Martin Hardie III, p. 199



Hardie, Martin. Watercolour Painting in Britain. Ed. Dudley Snelgrove, with Jonathan Mayne and Basil Taylor. 3 vols. London: B. T. Bbatsford, 1968.

MacWhirter, John. Sketches from Nature. Introduction by Mrs. MacWhiter. 1923.

Sinclair, William. The Life and Art of John MacWhirter

Spielmann, M. H. The Art of John MacWhirter. London, 1904.

Wood, Christopher. Research by Christopher Newall. The Dictionary of Victorian Painters. 2nd ed. Woodbridge: Antique Collector’s Club, 1978.

Created 21 April 2021