Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art – Watercolour in a Watercolour Moleskine
This modest building was built, as a “Town House” in 1778 by William Cunninghame, a wealthy merchant who had made his fortune trading in tobacco from the United States. Cunninghame was one of the Glasgow “Tobacco Lords” who capitalised on the fact that favourable trade winds, from the, then, American Colonies, hit the west coast of Scotland and enabled ships to arrive up to two weeks earlier than in other parts of the UK. When Cunninghame realised that the American War of Independence might cut off tobacco supplies he bought up as much as possible then stored it. He later sold it for up to eight times what he paid for it. The Tobacco Lords – a group of around eighty merchants, monopolised the trade and when tobacco was no longer available they invested in cotton, especially that from the West Indies.
The building has, since Cunninghame’s time been part of The Royal Bank of Scotland and The Royal Exchange when the Corinthian Pillars were added. Later on it became a library but the art collection began in 1996. My scene shows this façade with The Duke of Wellington’s Statue to the left of centre. Most of our large towns and cities pay homage to Wellington since he was regarded the saviour of the nation after defeating Napoleon at Waterloo. It is impossible to gauge how public opinion was so relieved when the threat of invasion, by the French, was removed. This can only be compared with events in 1940. These days Wellington is less revered as this is probably the only time you will see his statue without the mandatory traffic cone on his head.