Picture of the Month: The Dominee by Henry Wright Kerr


'The Dominee' Henry Wright Kerr

‘The Dominee’
Henry Wright Kerr

Henry Wright Kerr was a Scottish artist born in 19th century Edinburgh. He is best known for his rather couthy impressions of scenes from Scottish life and character portraits.

Kerr began his working life as apprentice in a factory (manufactory) in Dundee before returning to his native Edinburgh where he attended evening art classes at the Royal Scottish Academy.

To extend his artistic skills Kerr went to the Netherlands, to the famous Hague School.

He became a member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour in 1891, an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1893 and member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1909.

Kerr preferred working in watercolour and gouache. Often his subjects were portraits, as here in this etching, but he made a half length portrait of the horticulturist James Grieve, of the apple fame, and this picture is held by the National Gallery of Scotland.

Kerr was a book illustrator and best remembered for his illustrations for John Galt’s celebrated work, Annals of the Parish. He also illustrated Dean Ramsay’s (Edward) Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character.

This etching, the Dominee, is a cracking study of an elderly man, his tie knotted into a floppy bow and from under a dark felt hat pulled down over his brow the man’s shrewd eyes settle on someone or something out to the side. Kerr has captured the quiet confidence and intelligence of the man, the Dominee or headmaster. Note his signature is seen as reversed from the print process. A fine study.


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