John Henry Lorimer

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The Flight of the Swallows by John Henry Lorimer, 1906
The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk, 1891. National Gallery of Scotland.
The Lorimer family grave, Newburn, Fife

John Henry Lorimer (12 August 1856 – 4 November 1936) was a Scottish painter who worked on portraits and genre scenes of everyday life.


Lorimer was born in Edinburgh, the son of James Lorimer, who was Regius Professor of Public Law at Edinburgh University from 1862 to 1890.[1] He was educated at Edinburgh Academy, Edinburgh University and in 1875 at the Royal Scottish Academy,[2] being taught by McTaggart and Chalmers. This was followed by a period spent in Paris studying with Carolus-Duran. His younger brother was the renowned architect Robert Lorimer.

Lorimer travelled throughout Spain, Italy and Algiers between 1877 and 1891. He exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy from 1873 and at the Royal Academy from 1878. Significant amongst his works are The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk, which hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland, A Peaceful Art and Kellie Castle Garden, which was sold at auction in 2000 for £32,900. His portraits included renditions of Lyon Playfair, Joseph Lister, Peter Hately Waddell and other luminaries of the era.

Lorimer was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1882 and made a full academician in 1900. He showed 123 works at the Royal Scottish Academy and 43 works at the Royal Academy in London.

In 1878 the Lorimer family acquired the lease of Kellie Castle in Fife and began its restoration for use as a holiday home. This later became the permanent family home, after purchase in 1948 by Robert Lorimer's son, the sculptor Hew Lorimer. The castle is owned today by the National Trust for Scotland who maintain a changing exhibition of his works, plus those of his brother, Robert Lorimer and nephew, Hew Lorimer.

1 Bruntsfield Crescent, Edinburgh

In later life he lived at 1 Bruntsfield Crescent in Edinburgh in a large house remodelled by his brother Robert Lorimer who also lived there together with a sister. The artist Robert Gibb lived next door at 2 Bruntsfield Crescent at that time.[3]

John Henry Lorimer died at Gyles House, Pittenweem, Fife, on 4 November 1936.

He is buried with his parents and siblings in the family grave in the extreme south-west corner of the remote Newburn Churchyard in rural Fife.


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