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Nineteenth Century New Zealand Artists: A Guide & Handbook

NAIRN, James McLachlan 1859–1904

NAIRN, James McLachlan 1859–1904

Born Aberfoyle near Glasgow, Scotland, his father a builder and contractor, later a property valuer: studied at the Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts under Robert Greenlees 1880 and at the Julian Academy Paris. Worked in Glasgow with the Glasgow Art Club, a group of artists led by W. Y. Macgregor, all interested as the French impressionists were in light and colour. Exhibited with Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts 1880–89, at the Scottish Royal Academy 1882–85; with Kirkcudbright Fine Arts Assoc Dumfries 1888. Nairn was well thought of as an artist but on account of his health emigrated to New Zealand. Arrived Dimedin on the Forfarshire 2 January 1890, visited relatives at Mataura, spent some time in Dunedin meet- page 178 ing artists and giving a lecture; then sailed up coast to Wellington arriving there 13 August; is said to have given an exhibition of his work. 1891 appointed teacher at the Wellington School of Design (later Wellington Technical College); was much criticised by the public for his impressionistic work and for instituting a life class drawing from the nude. At first exhibited with the NZ Academy of Fine Arts, but in 1892, critical of the way the committee was run by non-painters, he led a group to form the Wellington Art Club who for some years held their own exhibitions: after he rented his “Pumpkin Cottage” at Silverstream in 1894 many painters gathered there. He later rejoined the Academy and exhibited with them. Work included in Centennial Ex Wtn 1940. Represented: major New Zealand galleries, Hocken.