Thomas Dudgeon was an interesting nineteenth-century painter born in 1804. His paintings were bright and colourful, specialising in landscape and architecture but also detailing people going about their daily lives. He also worked, as several painters did at the time, as a scene designer and painter in Glasgow and Paisley theatres off and on all his life.
In 1865 he was commissioned as one of a team of artists to undertake a diorama of Scotland and Ireland. A diorama is a visual technique which uses large transparent panoramic paintings, clever manipulation of coloured screens and shutters and illumination behind, in front or part of the picture to create the illusion of movement and dramatic effect. The subjects of a diorama were usually landscapes and architectural views which were very much Dudgeon’s forte which explains his commission.
The Royal Diorama of Scotland, the brainchild of an associate of Dudgeon’s, Thomas Birrell and Birrell’s associate Alexander Lamb was completed and premiered in Belfast in 1868 before touring to the British mainland where it achieved great success and secured Dudgeon’s reputation.
A second diorama of 40 new views of Scotland was planned by Thomas Birrell in 1872 and again, Dudgeon was part of the team. This was to be exhibited first in Rothesay and one of Dudgeon’s works shows the Firth of Clyde with Rothesay, the rest of the Isle of Bute and surroundings. Also, included in this diorama was a painting completed in 1878 of Brodick Castle and the Arran Marine Waterfront showing Goatfell, Brodick Castle and the busy goings on at the waterfront in a very different treeless landscape from today.
Thomas Dudgeon died in 1880.