Royal Arch (Dundee) Fantasy
By Robert Leishman

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Year
1962
Media
Oil Painting
Subject Matter
People
Reg. Number
G429
Size
105.5 x 140 cm

In this surreal composition, Leishman uses rich oils paint to create a fantastic depiction of the Royal Arch in Dundee, which was demolished in 1964, two years after this piece was finished.? It includes a pair of oversized sunflowers sheltering a rather glum royal couple from the wind, perhaps meant to represent Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, since the arch was built to commemorate their visit to Dundee in 1844. The waste bins full of flowers is a clear anachronism, adding to the surreality of the composition. The piece is dark: the arch is set against a nighttime background, beneath the light of the full moon, with the sea in the background. The arch is duplicated in the ground beneath it, though it is unclear whether it is a shadow or a reflection.

Robert Leishman RSW was a painter in oil, watercolour and gouache: he specialised in producing abstract and fantasy pieces displaying colour, imagination and wit to reflect his own character. He was born in 1916 in Inverkeithing, Fife, and studied at Edinburgh College of Art, from 1934 to 1938. He served overseas during World War II, and in 1947 turned from abstract painting towards romantic work, developing a richness in the surface of oil paint to create "fantasies" lit by a source within the canvas itself. In 1965 he turned to watercolours, showing the influence of artists such as Marc Chagall and John Maxwell. He was elected to the Scottish Society of Artists (SSA) and Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (RSW) and won the May Marshall Brown Award in 1987. Leishman died in 1989.

"It is the pervasive moods and auras he creates that make Leishman's fantasies palatable; and it is by them that his imagery has become mature in texture and quality; for its actual contents have changed little over the years...in subtle matters of the presentation and technique he is often entirely convincing and entirely captivating." --from Leishman's biography in the Dictionary of Scottish Art & Architecture, by Peter J M McEwan

With thanks to Fidra Fine Art for information about this artist.

Wikipedia article about the Royal Arch

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