Elizabeth Blackadder (1931 - 25/08/2021)

Oil on canvas


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© Elizabeth Blackadder

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Image of Bullfighter
  • About the work
    Country: Luxembourg
    City: Luxembourg
    Place: British Embassy

    ‘Bullfighter’, a painting by Elizabeth Blackadder, was probably produced shortly after her first visit to Spain in the summer of 1958. It is believed to have been included in her solo exhibition at the Scottish Gallery in 1961. The composition reflects Blackadder’s artistic shift towards a more colourful palette in the late 1950s and early 1960s, influenced by her travels in Europe.

    In a letter to the Government Art Collection, Blackadder wrote about this work: 

    ‘It was painted in Edinburgh from sketches and drawings done in Spain and I did about three paintings of the subject. At that time I tended to use much thicker paint than I do now’.

    Blackadder’s travels, particularly in France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Japan, significantly influenced her technique and use of imagery. Her paintings, graphic works and tapestries are often distinguished by the presence of small, evocative images and marks covering the general field of the work’s surface. She often used collage, gold leaf, or other mixed media in her work. 

  • About the artist
    Dame Elizabeth Blackadder was born in 1931 in Falkirk, Scotland. She studied at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art from 1949 to 1954, and taught at Edinburgh College of Art between 1956 and 1986. In the year of her graduation, Blackadder was awarded a Carnegie Travelling Scholarship, enabling her to visit Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, where she was particularly impressed by the Byzantine architecture and mosaics she saw. In 1954/55 she worked in Italy and in 1956 married the artist John Houston, with whom she has since travelled widely. Her working relationship with Dovecot Studios was established with a collaborative project in 1967, and was further developed in 1980 and 1987 with a number of commissions. Blackadder was the first woman to be elected as a full member of both the Royal Scottish Academy (1972) and the Royal Academy (1976). She was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1982 and has also received honorary doctorates from four Scottish universities. In 2001 she was appointed Her Majesty’s Painter and Limner in Scotland. Her work is included in the collections including Tate, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and has appeared on a series of Royal Mail stamps. She died in 2021.
  • Explore
    Materials & Techniques
    canvas, oil, oil painting
  • Details
    Oil on canvas
    height: 55.00 cm, width: 82.50 cm
    Purchased from Christie's Red Cross Auction, September 1996
    Edinburgh, Aitken Dott & Son; Robert Fleming Holdings Limited
    GAC number