The east Perthshire town of Blairgowrie was the home of William Geddes, a self taught artist. He became the central figure of a small group of painters who gathered in the town. Together, we refer to them as 'The Blairgowrie Boys'. Their fame was largely confined to the locality. The growing reputation of Blairgowrie as a favourite place for artists encouraged others to settle in the town.
William Geddes (1840-1884) was born in Blairgowrie and became well known as a painter of scenes from Scottish life and as a painter of fish. He was also highly regarded for his witty and popular writing. Among his achievements was a joint commission from Andrew Carnegie, the American steel magnate, for a painting commemorating Carnegie's visit to Dunfermline, his place of birth. The painting can now be seen at the Carnegie Birthplace Museum in Dunfermline. Some members of William's family were used as models, or are recognisable in the crowd.
In 1864, William met and married Margaret Ewan in Leith but moved back to Blairgowrie, where they had eleven children. They lived first at William's family home at the end of Rory (now Reform) Street, then briefly at Riverside House in Rattray, before moving to Gowanbrae Cottage in 1874, where William built himself a studio and where he spent the rest of his life.
From the mid-1860s William exhibited regularly at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh. He was also a member of the Scottish Arts Club. William occasionally used watercolour but more often he painted in oils. He frequently used members of his family as models.
William had a reputation for having a pleasant personality and for being a generous and witty host.. His circle of friends included artists and gallery owners as well as local families in Blairgowrie, chiefly the Grimonds of Oakbank. He is associated with a number of artists including David Farqhuarson, William Dickson, James Michael Brown and the sculptor, Thomas Burnett.
William died in Blairgowrie in 1884 at the age of 44.. He is buried in the local cemetery.
William's portrait of his wife,
LINKS TO WEBSITES DISPLAYING SOME OF WILLIAM'S PAINTINGS
Thomas Stuart Burnett, the sculptor responsible for creating the small statues in the Scott Monument in Edinburgh and the statue of Alexander Selkirk in Largo, also created this portrait bust of his friend William Geddes. His signature can be seen on the reverse. William's diary for 1880 refers to 'sittings' for the sculptor during his visits to Gowanbrae. The bust is now in the care of Perth Museum and Art Gallery.