Item NMC/0043B - Abstract design

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Key Information

Reference code



Abstract design


  • c1893 (Creation)

Level of description



2 of 2

Content and Structure

Scope and content

Includes three thumbnail double portraits.

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Name of creator


Biographical history

John Quinton Pringle (1864 -1925) was the son of a railway employee and born in Annfield Street (now Annbank Street) Dennistoun. Though the family moved for a short time (1869 to 1874) to Langbank in nearby Renfrewshire, where his father had been appointed stationmaster, John received his education in Glasgow and later lived for some time in Maukinfauld Road, Tollcross. He left school at the age of 12 and was apprenticed to an optical repairman in London Road. He won a bursary in 1885, while still an apprentice, to attend evening and Saturday morning classes at Glasgow School of Art, continued with the classes for many years, and for a while also attended early morning classes which began at 7 am. In the 1890's he set up his own Optical business in 90 Saltmarket near Glasgow Cross. He kept this shop running but it was a sideline to his first love of painting. In 1891 he won the Gold Medal for Life Drawing at the South Kensington National Competition run by the Department of Science and Art.

He has left about 100 works. Many are small oils on canvas, with subjects often including his family, friends, backcourts or local surroundings. He did not paint in oils between 1911 and 1921. He visited Normandy in 1910 and spent a couple of summers in the Shetland island of Whalsay, In both cases he produced a range of sea or landscapes, often experimenting with painterly effects. Later he produced portraits, often miniatures, on commission, some of which are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
He was influenced by the French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage, who had exhibited in Glasgow, along with other French painters, during the 1880s. In later works he used paint dissolved in turpentine and applied this in short strokes using a square brush. His palette in any one painting was limited but intense - his technique often giving a luminous or shimmering effect. He exhibited at the Vienna Secessionist Exhibition of 1902 and in the Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, in 1914. A Centenary Exhibition was held by Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow in 1964.

He died in East Kilbride on the 21st of April 1925 and is buried in Sandymount cemetery, in the east end of Glasgow.

Archival history

Custodial history

William Meldrum, James Meldrum, bequeathed to GSA by Mrs Eva Meldrum 1983, as from "the widow of James Meldrum in memory of Francis Newbery, former director of The Glasgow School of Art and three of his pupils, John Quinton Pringle, William Sommerville Shanks and William Meldrum".

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Physical Description

Etching proof on paper

Dimensions: 146 x 108 mm

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