South Scotland

John Faed: The painter who helped Kirkcudbright become an artists' town

John Faed Image copyright Dumfries and Galloway Council
Image caption John Faed was born in southern Scotland 200 years ago

Kirkcudbright is proud of its history as an artists' town.

The likes of EA Hornel, William Mouncey, Charles Oppenheimer, Jessie M King, and SJ Peploe all had strong connections with the area.

One painter who played a key role in developing its reputation as a creative "colony" was born 200 years ago.

Now an exhibition is being held in the town to celebrate the birth of John Faed - and the part he had in putting the area on the artistic map.

The oldest of six children - five of whom would have works exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh or the Royal Academy in London - he was born at Barlay Mill, Gatehouse of Fleet on 31 August 1819.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Kirkcudbright enjoys a long history as a town which has attracted artists
Image copyright James Bell

The family is credited with encouraging other families to believe their children could become successful artists too.

Faed learned to paint miniatures as a boy in Gatehouse, before moving to Edinburgh to pursue his career as an artist, where he was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1851.

Although he later moved to London, his heart remained in south west Scotland and he built a house in Gatehouse in 1868, settling there permanently in about 1880 and using local models in many of his pictures.

He was president of the Kirkcudbright Fine Art Society, which held its first exhibition in 1886 and helped launch the careers of numerous local painters.

Image copyright Dumfries and Galloway Council
Image caption John Faed used many local models for his paintings
Image copyright MJ Richardson
Image caption The artist is credited with paving the way for many others who lived and worked in the town

He died in the village where he was born in 1902.

Many years on, the significance of Faed's role is being recognised with an exhibition at the new Kirkcudbright Galleries.

"This exhibition highlights an important date in Kirkcudbright's history as an artists' town," said Andy Ferguson, who chairs Dumfries and Galloway Council's communities committee.

"John Faed would have been 200 years old on Saturday 31 August.

"Kirkcudbright has flourished as both a community and as an artists' colony during this time, and the new exhibition at the Galleries celebrates the starting point in where this began."

Image copyright MJ Richardson
Image caption Faed - the oldest of six children - was born at Barlay Mill in Gatehouse of Fleet in 1819
Image copyright MJ Richardson

The exhibition has attracted work from a number of galleries, including the National Galleries of Scotland and the Royal Scottish Academy.

It also includes important paintings from private collections, some of which may never have been seen in public before.

The exhibition spans Faed's long career from his earliest years as a miniaturist, to his time in Edinburgh and London and his Gatehouse-based paintings.

And few places could be more appropriate than Kirkcudbright to celebrate his life and work.

Image copyright Colin Hattersley
Image caption The exhibition is being held at Kirkcudbright Galleries