John Knox Masterpiece Lost for a Century Returns to Glasgow

John Knox, Glasgow Fair (1832). Courtesy of tthe Glasgow Museums.

Glasgow Fair (1832), a masterpiece by the Scottish artist John Knox, will return to Glasgow after being missing for over a century, the Scotsman reports. The painting will go on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery beginning February 2, thanks to a fund-raising bid spearheaded by the Glasgow Museums that succeeded in raising the £220,000 required to purchase it from London’s Fine Art Society.

Knox’s artwork intricately depicts a group of over a hundred revelers entering Glasgow Green. It was last displayed publicly at the 1901 Glasgow International Exhibition, staged at Kelvingrove Park. The artist’s family decided to sell it shortly after, and it changed hands as part of several private collections from then on, although the precise records remain unclear at this point.

In 2013, the London-based fine art specialist Patrick Bourne spotted Glasgow Fair in Sotheby’s London, where it was up for sale, wrongly attributed to the Irish artist William Turner de Lond and said to be depicting a view of Dublin. Bourne, an expert in Knox’s work, told artnet News that upon seeing the painting he felt something “not right” with its Irish provenance and began a painstaking research process, which culminated in the re-attribution to Knox. The Fine Art Society, where Bourne was working in 2013, bought the painting with the “firm purpose that it went to to a Scottish Museum.”

“The mistake in the attribution most probably happened in the 70s, when a US-based art collector bought the painting as a Turner de Lond from the London-based gallery Frost and Reed in October 1971,” Bourne explained to Artnet News.

“John Knox’s Glasgow Fair is a painting that belongs to Glasgow and we are delighted to welcome it home to the city,” Archie Graham, chair of Glasgow Life, one of the organizations that contributed to the fund, said of the much-awaited return of the masterpiece.

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