01 Classic Works of Art, Marine Paintings, James Kay’s DEPARTURE FROM THE CLYDE – With Footnotes, #184

James Kay (22 October 1858 – 26 September 1942)
DEPARTURE FROM THE CLYDE – BOUND FOR THE FRONT

Oil on canvas
76cm x 127cm (30in x 50in)
Private collection

The River Clyde is a river that flows into the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. It is the eighth-longest river in the United Kingdom, and the second-longest in Scotland. Traveling through the major city of Glasgow, it was an important river for shipbuilding and trade in the British Empire. To the Romans, it was Clota, and in the early medieval Cumbric language, it was known as Clud or Clut, and was central to the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

The Clyde became famous worldwide for its significant contribution to yachting and yachtbuilding. More than 55 boats were built by Robertson’s Yard in preparation for the First World War, and the yard remained busy even during the Great Depression in the 1930s, as many wealthy businessmen developed a passion for yacht racing on the Clyde. During World War II, the yard was devoted to Admiralty work, producing large, high-speed Fairmile Marine motor boats. More on the Clyde

James Kay (22 October 1858 – 26 September 1942) was born on the Isle of Arran. He is arguably best known for his portrayals of the sea and the ships at work on the River Clyde, Glasgow. Working in Glasgow at the same time as the Glasgow Boys rose to prominence, Kay remained on the edges of this group. Unlike his peers, Kay continued to gain great pleasure from painting the busy, gritty streets and shipyards of the ‘real’ Glasgow. Like many other artists at the time, Kay was influenced by the Impressionists, but a great deal of originality can be seen in his paintings. He also equipped with the ability to reflect life and capture atmosphere in his work. 

The bustling shipyards of the Clyde provided Kay with great inspiration, and as can be seen in “Departure from the Clyde – Bound for the front”, he was able to convey the drama of industrialisation through the smoke, grime, and water. Kay’s informal style captures the activity and spectacle of the docks – there is a sense of optimism from the tightly grouped figures watching the ships depart, and the unusual composition enhances our sense as a viewer of being in the thick of the action, providing a true reflection of life in Glasgow at the time. More on James Kay

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Author: zaidangallery

I search Art History for Beautiful works that may, or may not, have a secondary or unexpected story to tell. I then write short summaries that grow from my research. Art work is so much more when its secrets are exposed

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