James Cowie RSA

James Cowie RSA (1886-1956), born Aberdeenshire, was a Scottish painter and teacher. The quality of his portrait paintings and his strong linear style made him among the most individual Scottish painters of the 1920's and 1930's. His work shows meticulous draughtsmanship which was based on his studies of the Old Masters and use of preparatory drawings. 

He enrolled at Glasgow School of Art in 1912, studying under Maurice Greiffenhagen, graduating shortly before the start of the First World War. Cowie was then appointed art master at Bellshill Academy near Glasgow where he taught for almost 20 years. It was during this time that he produced his well known portraits of his students, as well as still lifes and landscapes. 

He held his first solo exhibition at the McLellan Galleries in Glasgow in 1935, the same year he became Head of Painting at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen. In 1937 he took on the role of Warden at Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, where he produced some of his finest works whilst teaching at the annual summer school. Among his pupils were Colquhoun and MacBryde, Robert Henderson Blyth and Joan Eardley. 

Cowie was an admirer of artists such as Poussin and the Pre-Raphelite's, feeling that he shared their classical values of self-restraint and objectivity. Later in his career, he developed an interest in Surrealism, experimenting with perspective. 

His works are held in the collections of Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museum; Glasgow Museums; The Hunterian Art Gallery & Museum; Perth Art Gallery; City Art Centre, Edinburgh; Culzean Castle, Ayrshire; Dundee Art Gallery; The Fleming Collection, London and the National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh.