Despite not painting full-time the years spent in France were of great use to Anne: ‘I could never have sacrificed my family to painting .... I put everything into house and furniture and dresses and good food and people. All thats the same sort of thing as painting really and the experience went back into art when I started painting again’. Redpath developed a technique of applying paint in layers, sometimes leaving them to dry for a day or so, and then rubbing the surface with a small piece of chain-mail before applying more paint. The richness of the surface has become one of the most noticeable characteristics of the painting.
Oil on plywood
61 × 74 cm
Ⓒ The Artist's Estate. All Rights Reserved 2019/Bridgeman Images
Anne Redpath OBE RSA ARA ARWS, 1895-1965
Born in Galashiels, the daughter of a tweed designer, Anne Redpath overcame initial parental opposition to the study of art on condition that she also trained as a teacher. In 1913 she enrolled at Edinburgh College of Aer, where she was taught by, among others, David Alison, Henry Lintott and D.M. Sutherland. The college awarded her a travelling scholarship in 1919, and Redpath went to Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Florence - where she lived for several months - and Siena, where she was impressed greatly by the work of the Sienese Primitives, particularly the brothers Lorenzetti.
In 1920 she married James Beattie Michie, an architect with the war Graves Commission in France, spending fourteen years bringing up a family, first in northern France and then on the Riviera, painting whenever she could. She and her three sons returned to Scotland in 1934, living in Hawick, where she had been brought up. She moved to Edinburgh in 1949. On her return to Scotland she took up painting again in earnest, forced to earn a living from it. Until she travelled in Spain in 1951 her paintings were mainly still life’s and landscapes, but after that visit her art developed a new strength and drama, her handling of paint was much freer, and her work developed a more abstract quality.
Colour and texture fascinated Redpath. The influence of her father's work remained with her, as she observed in later life in an exhibition catalogue: "I do, with a spot of red or yellow in harmony with grey, what my father did with his tweed." In the last twelve years of her life she painted in Corsica, the Canary Islands, Portugal, Amsterdam and Venice. Serious illness in 1955 and 1959 seemed only to intensify the emotion with which she charged her canvas.
Redpath painted highly decorative works in which simple colour harmonies dominate. revealing the influence of the French post-Impressionist, in particular Gauguin, Matisse, Bonnard and Vuillard.