Mouncey, William (1852-1901)

Mouncey, William (1852-1901)
Mouncey, William (1852-1901)

Scottish artist William Mouncey was, said close friend Malcolm Harper, ‘undoubtedly a born landscape painter.’ A passionate, emotional artist, Mouncey would play a significant role in the development of Scottish landscape painting across the second half of the 19th century.

Apart from a brief spell of study in Edinburgh, Mouncey never received a formal arts education. He must have picked up on artistic tricks, however, from his father, who has a house painter. Indeed, for a long while, Mouncey followed in his father’s craft. It was only in 1886 that he decided to take the plunge and pursue landscape painting professionally.

It seems a natural affinity for the craft, as well as an impassioned call for nature, were much more meaningful in the development of Mouncey’s artistic career than a formal education. Mouncey’s heart and brush remained loyal to his birth town of Kirkcudbright. It was in this town, swaddled by gorgeous countryside, that he would live and work all his life, building his own studio. Indeed, Mouncey was also part of a group of artists who flocked to the area to create what became known as the Kirkcudbright School.

This collective of artists was known as the ‘Scottish impressionists,’ deriving much inspiration from the atmospheric, immediate evocations of nature that the French impressionists had been creating. They were also much inspired by the Glasgow Boys, a collective of artists who had also taken inspiration from the impressionists, with strong, effusive colouring, as well as the realism of Dutch landscape painting. On the whole, the Kirkcudbright School was interested in passionate depictions of nature which took inspiration directly from the source.

Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933) was an influential figure in the Kirkcudbright School, also being a member of the Glasgow Boys, and was for a time a close friend of Mouncey’s. Mouncey married Hornel’s sister, Margaret, in 1874. Hornel would guide and encourage Mouncey’s developing style, and the Kirkcudbright School seemed a beneficial, convivial group, who at the same time elevated the importance of the Kirkcudbright area in Scottish landscape painting.

Mouncey has remained one of the most celebrated artists of this group. With his animated, broad brushstrokes, Mouncey builds up buoyant scenes of the Scottish countryside. His paint is laid on thick upon the canvas, often placed with a palette knife, which increases the sensation of animation, of being in the moment. Bold ochres deftly rustle the thicket of leaves and branches in the wind. Ebullient clouds froth and balloon, at times, becoming pricked with flushes of earth tones, as if leaves are drifting through the air.

Mouncey was praised for his ‘sensitiveness for the delicacies of tones.’ Indeed, whilst there is a luscious luminosity to his work, his colouring is also grounded in a reality which pays much respect to nature’s truth. Yet this did not limit him. With a canny brush and palette knife, and an innate sense of composition and tone, Mouncey created works of the Scottish countryside which reflect both its beauty and the excitement of a burgeoning artist within a thriving artistic community.

Mouncey became a stalwart of Scottish art in general. He exhibited numerous times both at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and the Royal Glasgow Institute. He was also crucial in the formation of the Kirkcudbrightshire Fine Art Association exhibition. Indeed, Mouncey’s loyalty to his hometown was retained throughout his life. He played a role in local politics, sitting on the town council.

He travelled rarely, hardly ever straying from his hometown. His passion was in painting, and the heart of his paintings lay in Kirkcudbright.


Born in Kirkcudbright, Scotland.


Married Margaret Hornel.


First exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy.


Exhibited at the inaugural the Kirkcudbrightshire Fine Art Association exhibition.


Travelled to Bedfordshire and London.


Died in Kirkcudbright, Scotland.

Stay In Touch
Subscribe to our Wednesday newsletter for the latest finds and 10% off your order.