The Glasgow Art Club

We in the colonies are delighted to discover, via the Intertubes, that there really is a Glasgow Art Club in the European City of Culture, 1990, akin to the famous Willow Tea Rooms but with artists who lunch…

Glasgow Art ClubGlasgow Art Club, which has occupied its existing Bath Street premises since 1893, was founded in 1867 by William Dennistoun, a young amateur artist who had been forced by ill health to leave the city. His friends who used to sketch with him at his cottage in rural Old Kilpatrick and Dennistoun proposed that they should form an art club. He and 10 others, all amateur artists, held preliminary discussions in a tearoom above a Candleriggs baker’s shop before launching the club in the Waverley Temperance Hotel in Buchanan Street.

At their monthly meetings each member would bring a painting, usually a watercolour, and the others would comment. At times there could be fiery disputes.

Membership grew in the 1870s, professional artists began to join, and exhibitions were held. Not surprisingly, the limitations of a temperance hotel began to be felt and in 1875 the club moved to a Sauchiehall Street hotel, also called Waverley, where something stronger than tea was to be had and annual dinners could be held in suitable style.

“The Art Club is my sanctuary, paradise in the middle of bubbling Hell of businesses, trendy bars, killer traffic, over priced restaurants and horribly crass shopping malls.”
~ Peter Howson

Glasgow Art Club

The continuing need for cash  helped to propel the club towards a critical move – the admission of lay members, which in any case was in tune with Glasgow’s awakening interest in the arts. This proposal was strenuously resisted at first but by the mid-1880s the painter James Guthrie was among influential members arguing successfully for change and male lay members began to be admitted, although women had to wait until 1983.

Two adjacent town houses were bought in Bath Street. There is recent evidence that the young Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a hand in some of the gallery’s ornamental details.The scene was thus set for countless dinners, dances, concerts, lectures and not least, exhibitions.

Taking Tea with Mackintosh

More at Glasgow Art Club


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