The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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John Robertson Reid, 1851-1926

Nationality: Scottish
Date of Birth: 1851.08.06
Place of Birth: Edinburgh
Date of Death: 1926.02.10
Place of Death: Hampstead, London


John Robertson Reid was a genre, landscape and coastal painter. He was the brother of the genre painter Flora M. Reid, who was for a time his pupil.


Reid studied at the Edinburgh School of Art and at the Royal Scottish Academy under George Paul Chalmers and William MacTaggart. He was friendly with the Glasgow Boys. In 1881 he moved to Cornwall where he began painting en plein air. The subjects of his paintings were drawn from rural existence, e.g., Toil and Pleasure, which was bought by the Chantrey Bequest in 1879, and life within fishing communities, e.g. The Rival Grandfathers (1884; Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool). They were frequently sentimental but well observed and robust in style and colour. In 1901 he settled in London.

Reid exhibited from 1876 in London at the Royal Academy, Royal Institute of Oil Painters, Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Dowdeswell Galleries, Fine Art Society, Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, Society of British Artists (which appointed JW its President in 1886), and the International Society of Sculptors, Painters and Gravers, which made JW its President in 1898. He also exhibited at the Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, Royal Scottish Academy, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Royal Hibernian Academy, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Manchester City Art Gallery.

In 1880 he was elected a member of the Society of British Artists, resigning in 1886, the year in which JW took up Presidency. It was suggested that this was because of changes in policy instituted by JW but this was denied by JW (#11415). In 1883 he joined the Royal Institute of Oil Painters and in 1897 the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours.

In 1889 Reid wrote to the Hogarth Club confirming JW's account of the quarrel with Stott of Oldham and declaring that the latter should apologise to JW (#05174).


Bénézit, E., Dictionnaire des Peintres, Sculpteurs, Dessinateurs et Graveurs, 8 vols, Paris, 1956-61; Wood, Christopher, Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; McConkey, Kenneth, Memory and Desire: Painting in Britain and Ireland at the Turn of the Twentieth Century, London, 2002; Hopkins, Justine, 'John Robertson Reid', The Grove Dictionary of Art Online, ed. L. Macy, (accessed 21 March 2003).