1901 Exhibition Etchings, Muirhead Bone

Muirhead Bone's etching of the Glasgow Internation Exhibition 1901 - a view of the entrance to the exhibition, with river behind and Glasgow horizon behind. Park circus clearly identifiable on the right.

The Glasgow International Exhibition, which ran from May 2nd until November 4th 1901, was the second exhibition of its kind to be held in Glasgow. The aim of the Exhibition was to highlight the world’s progress during the nineteenth century within the confines of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Park, and through this demonstrate the city’s outward looking, and progressive nature.

Muirhead Bone (1876-1953), a celebrated Glasgow-born artist, created a set of etchings and drypoints of the buildings, gardens, amusements, and architectural features of the 1901 Exhibition. My project, entitled ‘1901 Exhibition Etchings’, centres around a collection of these works held by The Hunterian. From the permanent Art Gallery to the temporary pavilions of Russia and Ireland and the Indian Theatre, Bone’s etchings provide beautifully detailed records of the Exhibition.

My project features a blog, in which the etchings will be published thematically and paired with a written discussion. This blog examines the purpose of Bone’s prints; questioning why and by whom were they commissioned, as well as how they were consumed. I will support my analysis of these images with Glasgow University’s Special Collections material on the Exhibition, which ranges from photographs to catalogues, press cuttings, and James Hamilton Muir’s Glasgow in 1901, which was illustrated by Bone.

It is important to think of Bone’s work as more than just artistic records of an historical event. They are etchings, and so in order to understand them fully one must understand the processes and artistic context within which they were made. Because of this my blog also looks into the processes of etching and drypoint and assesses Bone’s use of the medium. This examination explores the etchings in three main research areas: ‘what is etching/drypoint?’, ‘Muirhead Bone and the etching revival in Britain’, and finally by undertaking a visual analysis of selected works.

Muirhead Bone's etching of the Glasgow International Exhibition 1901, the front of the Art Galleries (now Kelvingrove Park is used daily by visitors and locals alike, yet to many its past is somewhat forgotten. My hope is to contextualise Bone’s etchings both historically and artistically, and by doing so bring them and the park’s history to life for a twenty-first century audience.


For events related to this project see: https://1901exhibitionetchingsblog.wordpress.com/events/


Isobel MacDonald, PhD researcher in History of Art.  
Isobel is working on a collaborative project between university of Glasgow and the Burrell Collection, which reassesses the collecting practise of Sir William Burrell.