Wednesday 29 August 2018

Donald Graeme MacLaren (1886- 1917) – British soldier artist

Donald Graeme MacLaren was born on 23rd January 1886 in Kensington, London, UK.  His parents were James Marjoribanks MacLaren (1853 – 1890), an architect, and Margaret  Mathieson MacLaren, nee McColl (1858 -1908).  Graeme had the following siblings:  John Leslie MacLaren and James Ewing MacLaren, twins born in September 1884, emigrated to South Carolina where John Leslie - always known as Leslie -  Janet S., b. 1888, Dorothy, b. 1890.

Donald’s parents met when James MacLaren was working in London and attended St John's Presbyterian Church in Allen Street, Kensington. The minister there was the Rev. Dugald MacColl from Glasgow. James became friendly with MacColl's son, Dugald Sutherland MacColl and on 28 February 1883 James MacLaren married Dugald's sister Margaret Mathieson MacColl.

Donald studied at the Slade School of Art, 1903-08, winning several prizes for figure compositions.

In 1913 he married Violet A Thomson in Liverpool.  When war broke out, Donald joined the 10th Battalion (Liverpool Scottish) of the King’s (Liverpool) Regiment as a Private.   At the time of his death on the Western Front on 29th June 1917, Donald was a Second Lieutenant.  He has no known grave but is commemorated on the Ploegstreert Memorial in Belgium on Panel 3.

Donald’s uncle, Dugald Sutherland MacColl (1859-1948), became Keeper of the Wallace Collection (1911 – 1924) and then of the Tate Gallery. He was an artist, art critic, poet and founder of the National Art Collections Fund. He was friendly with many of the literary figures of the day - W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Lady Gregory, Max Beerbohm, H.G. Wells, Charles Ricketts, Augustus John, Auguste Rodin, Roger Fry and Walter Crane.  Donald painted his uncle's portrait in 1905.

I am trying to find a photograph or self portrait of Donald Graeme MacLaren and examples of some of his work.  If anyone can help please get in touch.