The Edinburgh Evening Dispatch - January 1941

Another Art Exhibition

To the exhibitions that reveal Scotland's interest in art must be added that of the Society of Painters in water-colours, now open in the RSA Galleries.

There may be fewer exhibits than a year ago, but the standard of work is high. The war atmosphere of our time has permeated some of the subjects, notably Mr R. Scott Irvine's "Deadly Nightshade" with its sinister suggestiveness of dark berries behind the open flower, a broken aeroplane as a dragon-fly of the night, and twisted wire entanglements as a danger to be avoided.

Scottish artists generally are admirably represented, and a special interest at this time when many Polish soldiers and refugees are in our midst lies in four arresting examples of the brush of Oktawian Jastrzembski, a Polish artist whose work has an individualistic character. It is to be hoped that the public, notwithstanding the many war effort claims, will rally to the, support of those who contribute so much to the joys rather than the terrors of life.

The Scotsman - January 1941

There is a considerable school with whom a decorative arrangement is the chief motive. There are also those who seek to combine the interest of form and colour with some symbolic idea. Outstanding in this classification is a work by R. Scott Irvine, “Deadly Nightshade,” in which the sinister quality of the plant is indicated to some degree by the stylised painting of stems and leaves in snake-like forms, and in which the dominant idea is linked on to present conditions through the introduction, with no effort at proportionate scale, of a German I aeroplane, whose twisted propellor blades carry the suggestion that it is an integral part of the nightshade subject matter.


The Scotsman - from the ‘Scotsman's Log’ - January 1941

As we forecast a few days ago, there is little evidence of the impact of war on the artists, a notable exception being “Deadly Nightshade,” a fascinating composition which was reproduced on yesterday's picture page.

The Scotsman - January 1941


War Pictures at Edinburgh, Exhibition

Art exhibitions held in Edinburgh during the 16 months of warfare have revealed very little of the war-time influence in the subject matter chosen by the artists. In that respect the 61st annual exhibition of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in water-colours, which opens to-day in the Royal Scottish Academy Galleries, Edinburgh, does not differ greatly from previous exhibitions held there. It is, however, significant that of about six pictures which owe their inspiration directly or indirectly to the war, the character of each one is distinct from the other.

There is, for example, “The Epic of Dunkirk”, by Frank W. Wood, and, on the other hand, there is “Dogs of War”, by J. Murray Thomson, symbolic in inspiration, but not in treatment, and an imaginative study, “Deadly Nightshade”, by R. Scott Irvine, handled in decorative style. The Dunkirk scene is fairly large in size, with a prevailing tone of blue. Motor launches, tugs, and ferry boats, together with ships of the Navy, crammed with the figures of uniformed men, are introduced in the foreground, the background ground being the town itself.

“Dogs of War” presents four dogs with ferocious expressions. The animals are painted in careful detail with the background, in varying shades of red, heightening the effect. “Deadly Nightshade” is carried out in light tones. It depicts a German aeroplane forced down near ploughed fields. A large plant, its stems curling in snakellike style, occupies the greater part of the foreground, where a line of barbed wire is prominently featured. A portrait, one of the few in the exhibition, is indirectly influenced by the war. It is a study of an evacuee, by William Armour, RSW.