The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
Home > On-line Edition > Biography

Edward Atkinson Hornel, 1864-1933

Nationality: Australian
Date of Birth: 1864.07.11
Place of Birth: Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia
Date of Death: 1933.06.30
Place of Death: Kirkcudbright, Dumphries and Galloway


Edward Atkinson Hornel was a Scottish painter of portraits, figure compositions and landscapes.


In 1885 Hornel met George Henry, one of the Glasgow Boys, and began painting in the manner of that group, that is, naturalistic subjects with a square-brush technique. However, the two artists began experimenting with bolder colours, rhythmic patterning and symbolist subject matter, producing jointly works such as The Druids (1890: Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums). Their works began to reflect an interest in the art of Japan and in Februrary 1894 they both set off on an eighteen month visit of this country. In Japan, influenced by its art and culture, Hornel produced many paintings, e.g. The Fish Pool (1894; Glasgow Art Galleries and Museums).

Whistler was extremely influential for Henry and Hornel in their early tonal approach to painting and desire for patterning, and their later Japonisme. In 1891 Hornel was amongst those who signed his name to a petition that the city of Glasgow should buy Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle (YMSM 137).


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Hardie, W. R., 'E. A. Hornel Reconsidered', Scottish Art Review, vol. 11, 1968, no. 3, pp. 19-21, 27, no. 4, pp. 22-26; Buchanan, W. (ed.), Mr Henry and Mr Hornel Visit Japan, Edinburgh, 1978; Billcliffe, Roger (ed.), Edward Atkinson Hornel 1864-1933, Glasgow, 1982; Billcliffe, R. (ed.), The Glasgow Boys: The Glasgow School of Painting, 1875-1895, London, 1985; Billcliffe, Roger, 'E. A. Hornel', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 28 March 2002).