James Miller (1893 - 1987)

Self-portrait, c.1940

SKU: 9654
Oil on canvas
Signed, lower left

Height – 125cm
Width – 70cm


The Artist’s family; Ramsay Cornish

Exhibited: Glasgow Art Club, 1940

Literature: Lesley Duncan James Miller R.S.A.’, pub. Royal Scottish Academy 1990.

Llewellyn, Sacha, and Paul Liss. Portrait of an Artist. Liss Llewellyn, 2021, p.322.

Viewed in a mirror, glancing up momentarily to acknowledge the viewer Millar  shows himself posed confidently in front of the full length canvas on which he is engaged in painting his self portrait. The artist, in his mid forties, is at the height of his powers, his body language confident, his  head  foiled by one of his own nocturnes  which hangs on he wall behind.

In her monograph on the artist (in which this painting provides the cover image), Leslie Duncan notes that the self-portrait shows Miller in young middle age with flamboyant high brimmed hat and long white coat, its folds skilfully rendered. Behind the round spectacles his eyes look intently at his easel rather than the viewer. A light source illuminates the right hand side of his face and neck, highlighting the solemn, rather monkeyish features. He was not concerned with self-flattery. The wide-spread feet, however, and the figure’s whole mien speak of confidence in his own presence and talents’.

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James Miller
1893 - 1987

Painter, born at Dennistoun, Glasgow. His work which included architecture and figures was executed in both watercolours and oils. He studied at Glasgow School of Art under Maurice Greiffenhagen and Robert Anning Bell and later in Paris. Miller exhibited at the RSW, becoming a member in 1934, the Royal Scottish Academy, becoming an Associate in 1943, and the GI. He was drawing master of Hillhead High School from 1919 and he travelled and painted regularly in Mediterranean countries. His colourful watercolours captured figures and architecture with an assured technique especially those painted on the Isle of Skye where he lived latterly. Examples of his work are in the collections of Aberdeen Art Gallery, Arts Council of Great Britain, Bradford Museums and Galleries, City of Edinburgh Council and Glasgow Museums. He was a member of the Glasgow Art Club who staged a retrospective exhibition in 1986 as the Scottish Gallery in the year of his demise.

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James Miller (1893 - 1987)
Self-portrait, c.1940