Exhibition showcases 
talent of J.W. Herald

A watercolour study of Arbroath Harbour by J.W. Herald (Photo courtesy of Angus Council)
A watercolour study of Arbroath Harbour by J.W. Herald (Photo courtesy of Angus Council)

To mark the centenary of the death of the popular Angus artist James Watterston Herald, Arbroath Art Gallery in the town’s library is currently displaying the Angus Council collection of his work.

James Watterston Herald was born on July 29, 1859, at 64 West High Street, Forfar. He was the son of a shoemaker, William Herald, who was said to have encouraged his early artistic efforts.

From a young age Herald was encouraged to pursue his artistic ambitions and over the years his interests developed into an outstanding talent.

Herald is known mostly for his studies of urban and seaside subjects in both watercolours and pastels, his watercolours having been described as being decorative and imaginative.

His work attracts many visitors, possibly due to his paintings of the local area and many local connections.

James Watterston Herald studied as a child at Forfar Academy where he was described as a bad yet dreamy pupil, due to him opposing formal education regimes.

Herald felt Forfar had very little to offer artistically, so he enrolled at Dundee High School where he was awarded a prize for excellence in drawing.

He later became influenced by Scottish artist Arthur Melville, widely regarded as one of the most powerful influences in the contemporary art of his day, especially in watercolour, and by Japanese art.

After a short spell in Edinburgh and 10 years in London, Herald returned to Scotland and took up residence in Arbroath around 1900, where he was to remain for the rest of his life, quietly working without strain and pressure in his studio in Commerce Street or his home in Bank Street.

Herald was unmarried and was seen as a bit of a recluse in his art and his life.

He was content to earn no more than a living. He was well read and could converse intelligently on any subject.

He was also a good violinist and it may be said that he loved his violin as much as he did his paintbrush.

He died at the age of 55 on October 17, 1914. He was ill for a considerable time before his death and is buried in Arbroath’s Western Cemetery.

The exhibition can be seen during normal library hours and will run until Saturday, November 1.