Students of Hospitalfield || Peggy Beardmore

Hospitalfield, in Arbroath, was essentially a finishing school for artists. Formerly an imposing private residence, it was gradually transformed into an art college following a bequest by the owners, Patrick and Elizabeth Allan, at the end of the Nineteenth Century. As its reputation grew, it became the place where Scottish art schools sent their most promising pupils for the summer.

If this is unfamiliar ground and the college’s story previously untold, the lacuna is more than adequately filled here. This comprehensive study follows the history of the building as well as the art school and its influence on Scottish art in the Twentieth Century. Alongside the historical narrative are studies of many of the artists whose careers were touched by Hospitalfield and there are also plenty of generously-sized illustrations that add the all-important visual element that a book like this demands.

The blurb describes this as “an essential reference for scholars, artists and curators”, hinting at the perhaps rather academic approach. For all that, it is a tale worth reading as well as telling and is by no means inaccessible for the non-specialist.

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