Nature at its Best: The Wildlife Art of Archibald Thorburn

Archibald Thorburn, A Covey of Grey Partridge Amongst Stubble Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Archibald Thorburn, A Covey of Grey Partridge Amongst Stubble
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935) was one of the most celebrated painters of birdlife of all time.  Scottish by birth, Thorbun was the fifth son of the miniaturist Robert Thorburn ARA.  Thorburn was artistic from a young age and likely developed his skill at capturing minute details from his father.  He began painting birds, animals, and flowers, but had a particular fondness for game birds due to his fascination with ornithology.

Archibald Thorburn, Oyster Catchers, Redshank and Dunlin Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Archibald Thorburn, Oyster Catchers, Redshank and Dunlin
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Thorburn had his first exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1880 at the age of 20.  Two years later, his illustrations appeared in J E Hartings, Sketches of Bird Life.  Soon after he was commissioned to illustrate the publication Coloured Figures of Birds in the British Isles by Lord Lilford, which included 268 watercolours by Thorburn.  Both Edward VII and George V were keen collector’s of Thorburns work.

H12.127

Archibald Thorburn, A Sandpiper
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

Thorburn relied solely on natural light for his works.  He never installed electricity in his home in Hascombe, Surrey and used the long summer days to do most of his work.  Each year he travelled back to the Highlands of Scotland to paint.  Today Thorburn’s works are highly valued for their keen observation of nature and artistic talent.

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