The tempestuous, transcendent drama of the Scottish countryside is captured in the wild, sweeping works of Scottish artist William Miller Frazer. Born in Scone, Frazer would participate in the growth and development of Scottish landscape painting during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Long desiring to compete with the artistic endeavours of neighbouring England, Scotland was making sure to make its mark, investing heavily in its artists. Indeed, Frazer would attend the acclaimed Royal Scottish Academy to receive his arts education, intended to compete with English schools such as the Royal Academy in London. When his studies were complete, he would then base himself out of Edinburgh as he pursued a professional career. Edinburgh was, and remains, the art capital of Scotland, and there was no place better for a budding artist to plant their roots.
Frazer’s work is a prime example of the growing influence of impressionism on Scottish landscape art. His predecessors had drawn inspiration from romanticism and the heightening of nature to execute wondrous and wild works. Painters such as William McTaggart (1835-1910), however, were looking to the French style of impressionism for inspiration. With a focus on capturing nature’s immediate state through agile brushstrokes and effusive colour, impressionism translated nature through artistic avenues, rather than exaggerating it for dramatic purposes.
Despite travels abroad to Italy, Holland, and Norway, among other places, Frazer remained loyal to his homeland in his oeuvre of works. Scotland is set alight and alive with lightning-sharp astuteness to its many moods. A wintery pall is spread across desolate moorland with ghostly greys and withering whites. The vivacity of summer is captured in brushstrokes which whip up a sea of spirited blues, sizzling upon saffron sands. A setting sun is a gold-encased jewel, set upon a cushion of plumpest blue which forms the ocean, its iridescence refracting back upon the sky, soft waves of yoke-like light wavering, the last vestiges of the dying day. His birthplace of Scone is often featured in his works, ochre heathland swallowing verdant pastures.
In life as well as art, Frazer remained loyal to Scotland. He befriended many of his fellow artists, including David Young Cameron (1865-1945). He also held a close connection to the East Linton school, a colony of artists working on the Scottish coast often referred to as the ‘Scottish Barbizon School’ for their close connection to nature. Indeed, Frazer also holds the record for the longest consecutive exhibitor at the Royal Scottish Academy, presenting his work at 78 exhibitions. In doing so, his art made a permanent mark on Scottish landscape painting and earnt him a position of esteem.
He served for a while as president of the Scottish Art Club, and up until his death remained a prominent painter on the Scottish art scene. Today, many of his works are held in galleries across Scotland, including in Scone and Perth.
Born in Scone, Scotland.
Exhibited annually at the Royal Scottish Academy.
Moved to Edinburgh, Scotland.
Became President of Society of Scottish Artists.
Became an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy.
Became a member of the Royal Scottish Academy.
Appointed president of the Scottish Arts Club.
Died in Edinburgh, Scotland.