How can we help you...

Newly acquired masterpiece inspires new show at Aberdeen Art Gallery


An exhibition inspired by an Edwardian masterpiece recently acquired by Aberdeen Art Gallery will open on Saturday 31 May at the Schoolhill venue.

Olga Ferguson, curator (Fine Art), Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums next to the portrait. Portrait of the Artist and his Wife, oil on canvas, 1910 by Aberdeen artist John Macdonald Aiken, reveals the grandeur, fashion and the manners of the period which are revealed in the exhibition The Lady and the Vamp: Women's Wardrobes and World War One.

This display of extravagant Edwardian costume alongside later outfits and striking portraits, explores the changing image of women and their dress before and after World War One.

The style of the portrait by Aiken hovers between Victorian formality and early 20th century modernity. The portrait was created in the artist's studio at 183a Union Street which was shared by other local artists including Douglas Strachan. The exhibition includes Strachan's painting The Ivory Fan.

Aiken studied at Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen, the Royal College of Art in London and in Florence. He was Head of Gray's School of Art from 1911 to 1914 before serving in World War One. After the war he became a full-time painter.

The portrait was purchased in February 2014 with assistance from the Art Fund, the National Fund for Acquisitions, Friends of Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums, Pilgrim Trust and with income from the Webster Bequest.

Olga Ferguson, curator (Fine Art), Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums, said: "This superb portrait is a masterpiece by Aberdeen artist John Macdonald Aiken and it is thanks to generous support from a number of funding bodies that we have been able to purchase this important work and bring it back to the city from which it originated.

"It forms the centrepiece of a new display which explores the changing social status and costume of women before and after the Great War."

Stephen Deuchar, director of the Art Fund, said: "This is a wonderful work by a major Scottish portrait painter of the early 20th century, which we are delighted to support. The work is well suited to Aberdeen Art Gallery's collection and will make a fine centrepiece within its permanent displays."

Opening hours
Tuesday – Saturday 10am-5pm
Sunday 2pm-5pm
Closed Monday
Admission free