Artist biography

Scottish draughtsman and etcher. The son of a journalist, he was apprenticed to an architect, but he took evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. Two early ink studies of Glasgow were reproduced in the last issue of the Yellow Book in 1897. He began to study printmaking in 1898, and it was in the media of drypoint and etching that he produced his most distinguished work. In 1901 he moved to London, where he was promoted by Dugald Sutherland MacColl, William Strang, Alphonse Legros and Henry Tonks, and where he became a member of the New English Art Club. In 1916, at the suggestion of William Rothenstein, Bone was appointed the first Official War Artist, serving with Allied forces on the Western Front and for a time with the Navy. He became a War artist again in 1940. Of the many books he illustrated, several were by members of his family. His subject-matter was often inspired by his foreign travels: in 1923 he executed three portraits of the novelist Joseph Conrad during an Atlantic crossing (e.g. Joseph Conrad Listening to Music, drypoint, 1923; U. St Andrews), and the luxurious folio-edition of Old Spain (London, 1936) arose from an extended visit to Spain in 1929. His most characteristic images, however, were of urban change: construction and demolition sites, shipbuilding yards and war-damaged cities provided the pretexts for large-scale, ambitious compositions and broad panoramas punctuated by minutely observed details.

C. Dodgson: Etchings and Drypoints of Muirhead Bone, 1898–1907 (London, 1909)
——: ‘Later Drypoints of Muirhead Bone, 1908–1916', Prt Colr Q. (Feb 1922), pp. 173–200
Muirhead Bone: Portrait of the Artist (exh. cat. by P. Trowles, U. St Andrews, Crawford A. Cent., 1986)


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