It is perhaps a reflection of Scotland’s strong links with Europe, as seen in the recent Brexit Referendum, that the City Arts Centre in Edinburgh has exhibitions linking to Scottish artists and Italy and to Mary Cameron (1865-1921) and her fascination with Spain.
If you think of the date that Mary Cameron was active, then you will understand how adventurous she was, as a woman of the time. Her early career in Edinburgh where she made a living from portraits of the great and the good, was followed by studies in Paris and then a visit to Madrid in 1900 which resulted in a long term love of Spanish people and culture, setting up studios in Madrid and Seville – quite adventurous for a man of the time, let alone a woman. Whether you like her art or not, there is a story to be told here about am adventurous, European, Scottish woman.
Her early Spanish-influenced work included studies of the masters such as Velazquez, but looser and not with the confidence of the originals, but it is with her paintings of bullfighters, young lovers, towns, villages and landscapes in Spain that she comes into her own, though it is very much of its era and you can understand why she became less known with time, even though she was admired by contemporary artists such as John Lavery and Alexander Roche.
It is fascinating then to travel down to London and a future generation to see the work of the London artist Anthony Wishaw and his work related to Spanish life and culture. The two should be seen together!
Then, lastly with a painting of an Edinburgh Halberdier in uniform, you realise that there are other cultural influences between the two countries. If you did not know, you might think that he was in Spain.