E. A. Hornel


B/W photograph of chimneypiece in picture gallery with John Keppie seated l., E. A. Hornel standing l. and Tizzie Hornel seated r. [check date]

The painter Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864–1933) was born in Victoria, Australia, but his family returned to their home town, Kirkcudbright, in S.W. Scotland shortly after his birth. Kirkcudbright was to remain a central part of his life.

Hornel studied painting at the Trustees' Academy, Edinburgh, from 1880 to 1883, and then at Antwerp Academy. On his return in 1885, he began a productive friendship and collaboration with the Scottish artist, George Henry (1858–1943), one of the group of young painters known as the Glasgow Boys. 1 The independent and collaborative works from this period are Hornel's most adventurous and significant, and include The Druids (1890) and the Star in the East (1891), both made with Henry, 2 and Summer (1891). 3 The Brook, one of his early symbolist paintings, was acquired by James Herbert McNair. 4 From 1894 to 1895, the two artists lived in Japan, where they absorbed Japanese art and culture, and produced many paintings and drawings. 5

Colour photograph of Oil painting by Edward Atkinson Hornel, "The Brook", 1891

On his return to Kirkcudbright, Hornel moved away from the Glasgow Boys, concentrating instead on commercially successful decorative compositions of young girls at play in landscape settings. 6 He never married, and devoted his income to the development of his home, Broughton House in Kirkcudbright, with its picturesque Japanese-inspired garden, and extensive library of rare Scottish books. The house is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland.John Keppie was a close friend.


1: Roger Billcliffe, The Glasgow Boys, London: Frances Lincoln, 2nd edn, 2008.

2: Glasgow Museums: 1534 and 3137

3: National Museums Liverpool: WAG 2934.

4: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 43887.

5: See William Buchanan, ed., Mr Henry and Mr Hornel visit Japan, Edinburgh: Scottish Arts Council, 1978.

6: For a selection of Hornel's paintings in public collections, see http://www.bbc.co.uk/arts/yourpaintings/paintings/search/painted_by/edward-atkinson-hornel_artists#/search/painted_by/edward-atkinson-hornel and Bill Smith, Hornel: The Life & Work of Edward Atkinson Hornel, Edinburgh: Atelier Books, 1997.