This watercolour shows the old farmhouse of Sandyknowe to which Scott was sent as an infant after he contracted polio. His maternal grandfather, an Edinburgh professor of medicine, recommended country air and freedom as a last resort and thus the lame boy spent several years at this farm belonging to his father’s parents.Here he grew up hearing the old Border ballads and songs, tales and legends, and learning to love the area as well as imbibing its ancient oral traditions. Redpath’s watercolour shows Sandyknowe in the middle distance beyond a lochan; her viewpoint was evidently high in Smailholm Tower, on a rocky outcrop above the lochan. Through both colour and a certain brusqueness of technique she well captures the mood of Scott’s own tribute to the spot in his introduction to the third canto of Marmion: "Yet was poetic impulse given, / By the green hill and clear blue heaven. / It was a barren scene, and wild, / Where naked cliffs were rudely piled."
Watercolour on paper
44.5 × 51 cm
64 × 70 × 3.5 cm
Signed bottom right
Ⓒ The Artist's Estate. All Rights Reserved 2019/Bridgeman Images
Anne Redpath OBE RSA ARA ARWS, 1895-1965
Born in Galashiels, the daughter of a tweed designer, Anne Redpath overcame initial parental opposition to the study of art on condition that she also trained as a teacher. In 1913 she enrolled at Edinburgh College of Aer, where she was taught by, among others, David Alison, Henry Lintott and D.M. Sutherland. The college awarded her a travelling scholarship in 1919, and Redpath went to Brussels, Bruges, Paris, Florence - where she lived for several months - and Siena, where she was impressed greatly by the work of the Sienese Primitives, particularly the brothers Lorenzetti.
In 1920 she married James Beattie Michie, an architect with the war Graves Commission in France, spending fourteen years bringing up a family, first in northern France and then on the Riviera, painting whenever she could. She and her three sons returned to Scotland in 1934, living in Hawick, where she had been brought up. She moved to Edinburgh in 1949. On her return to Scotland she took up painting again in earnest, forced to earn a living from it. Until she travelled in Spain in 1951 her paintings were mainly still life’s and landscapes, but after that visit her art developed a new strength and drama, her handling of paint was much freer, and her work developed a more abstract quality.
Colour and texture fascinated Redpath. The influence of her father's work remained with her, as she observed in later life in an exhibition catalogue: "I do, with a spot of red or yellow in harmony with grey, what my father did with his tweed." In the last twelve years of her life she painted in Corsica, the Canary Islands, Portugal, Amsterdam and Venice. Serious illness in 1955 and 1959 seemed only to intensify the emotion with which she charged her canvas.
Redpath painted highly decorative works in which simple colour harmonies dominate. revealing the influence of the French post-Impressionist, in particular Gauguin, Matisse, Bonnard and Vuillard.