Redpath, Anne (1895–1965)

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Redpath, Anne (1895–1965)

Scottish painter. Born in Galashiels, Selkirkshire, Scotland, on March 29, 1895; died in 1965; daughter of Thomas Brown Redpath (a designer of tweed) and Agnes Frier (Milne) Redpath; graduated from Edinburgh College of Art, 1918; earned teaching certificate from Moray House, 1918; married James Beattie Michie (an architect), on September 20, 1920; children: sons Alastair Milne, Lindsay, David.

Anne Redpath made a name for herself as a painter in many parts of Europe, including Scotland, France, and England. Her paintings and watercolors, belonging to no defined school of art, either traditional or modern, were praised for their "clarity and freshness" and sense of cheerful beauty, and her use of color was judged remarkable. Considered among her best works were her interiors of European churches and townscapes, although she was also particularly noted for her still-lifes and paintings of flowers.

Born in Galashiels, Scotland, on March 29, 1895, Redpath was encouraged to paint at a very early age, as her mother Agnes Redpath often made paintbrushes out of her own hair for her four children. While Redpath spent her childhood painting flowers not from nature but from her imagination, it was not until a class at Hawich High School with John Gray, later president of the Royal Scottish Society of Water Colour Painters, that she received formal art instruction. While her mother was supportive of her interest in art, her father Thomas Brown Redpath worried that she would not be able to support herself, and urged her to prepare for a back-up career as a teacher. Obeying his wishes, after graduating from high school in 1913 she studied both at Moray House, for a teaching degree, and at the Edinburgh College of Art. There she earned several prizes, and won a small stipend to study in London.

She graduated from both schools in 1918, and the following year was awarded a postgraduate scholarship for further study at the College of Art. This, in turn, led to a scholarship that enabled her to travel through Europe for a year, seeing art in France, Italy, and Belgium. After her return to Scotland, she married architect James Beattie Michie. They spent the next 15 years living in France, where she gave birth to three sons. Busy with family life, Redpath rarely painted during this time. She nonetheless had two exhibitions of her work, at Saint Omer, in the north of France, and later on the Riviera, at Saint Raphaël. Upon the family's return to Scotland in 1934, when her children were a bit older, she returned to painting. While she painted a series of Scottish landscapes, her works during these years were primarily domestic interiors and still-lifes. She also painted war posters during World War II.

Redpath traveled again in Europe in 1949, and afterwards began painting European landscapes, with a greater use of color. In 1951, she was elected to full membership in the Royal Scottish Academy, the first woman so honored. Her first solo exhibition in London was held the following year; particularly noted by critics were her flower paintings. Redpath frequently lectured in Scotland on art, and made a number of radio broadcasts examining modern painters. She received the Order of the British Empire and an honorary LL.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1955, and also suffered a coronary thrombosis that forced her to curtail her public life but did not stop her from painting. In 1959, she lost the use of her right arm. She eventually regained control over it, but by that time she had taught herself how to paint using her left arm.

A member of the Society of Scottish Artists from 1943, and of the Royal Society of British Artists from 1946, Redpath served as president of the Scottish Society of Women Artists from 1944 to 1947, and sat on the board of management of the Edinburgh College of Art for six years. Her paintings are held in public collections in various cities, including Sydney, Australia, and Vancouver, Canada, and in private collections in France, and have been displayed in the British Embassy in Bonn, Germany. She died in 1965.


Candee, Marjorie Dent, ed. Current Biography Yearbook 1957. NY: H.W. Wilson, 1957.

The Concise Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Jacqueline Mitchell , freelance writer, Detroit, Michigan