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Nairn, James McLachlan

James McLachlan Nairn (1859-1904), one of a group of influential Glasgow artists known as 'The Glasgow Boys' painted several works in Kildonan, which are perhaps the finest examples of landscapes from this part of the island. The Glasgow Boys, a collection of artists who developed a style which explored impressionism with an emphasis on naturalism and realism, worked across Scotland, and their distinctive approach is visible in Nairn’s ‘Kildonan’ of 1886 and his ‘Auchenhew, Arran’painted in the same year.

Born in Glasgow, Nairn would study at Glasgow School of Art, later spending time at the Académie Julian in Paris, returning to Scotland. For a decade he would paint and exhibit alongside the Glasgow Boys before emigrating from Scotland to New Zealand in 1890, later settling in Wellington. While not as well known in his native Scotland, Nairn is an important figure in the development of painting in New Zealand, largely due to his role as a lecturer at Wellington Technical School where he introduced contemporary European styles to his students. He also exhibited widely through the islands, with his "Wellington Harbour, 1894" one of many influential works.  A member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, 

Nairn would unfortunately die at home at the age of 44 either of peritonitis, or of falling ill while doing the activity he loved most – painting outdoors. Appropriately his marker on the trail faces south, towards his new home and final resting place.


James McLauchlan [i.e. McLachlan] Nairn: a catalogue of works by Victoria Hearnshaw. Published by Hocken Library in association with the Research Centre for New Zealand Studies, University of Otago, 1997. ISBN: 0902041665.

Nairn and his associates. Selected from works in the collection of the National Art Gallery by G. Packwood. Catalogue of an exhibition held at and published by National Art Gallery of New Zealand, Wellington.


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