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GEORGE LESLIE HUNTER (1877-1931)
George Leslie Hunter was born in Rothesay, Isle of Bute, in 1877. He was initially known as George and signed some of his early works G. Leslie Hunter, but he soon abbreviated this to Leslie Hunter.
He attended Rothesay Academy, but partly due to family deaths and poor health, his father decided in 1892 to emigrate to California. His first one-man exhibition was to have been held in 1906, but on the opening night all his pictures were destroyed by the San Fransisco earthquake and fire. His success at this time was confined almost exclusively to magazine illustration work.
The Hunters returned to Scotland in 1910, with Leslie following several months later, but the death of his father later that year and of his mother in 1913 had a severe effect on his morale. However, he was able to rely on his sister, Mrs Jeannie MacFarlane, for support and constantly returned from trips abroad to her home in Glasgow.
Before the outbreak of the First World War, Hunter met Alexander Reid who undertook to exhibit his work when he had completed a sufficient number of pictures. In search of ideas, Hunter went to France and painted in Etaples in 1914, but after being arrested and escaping to Paris he decided that Scotland would be safer.
In 1922 he went to the continent, visiting Paris, Venice, Florence and the Riviera Coast, occasionally painting with J.D. Fergusson. They returned later that year and Hunter based himself in Fife, painting a number of landscapes and also working among the houseboats of Loch Lomond.
Between 1927 and 1929 he returned to the South of France to paint at Saint Paul de Vence near Nice. This was a very productive visit, and early in 1929 on the advice of J.D. Fergusson and John Ressich, he went to New York and had a successful exhibition at the Ferargil Galleries which included much of his recent work.
By the summer of 1929 he had returned to the Riviera in very high spirits and painted Cassis, Saint Tropez and Saint Paul. His health, however, deteriorated and his sister brought him home to Glasgow in September of that year.
This was the most serious of his breakdowns; but on recovering he emerged with a great sense of confidence in his work, producing some fine still lifes, and portraits of his friends in Glasgow.
The market in London was secure at this time and Hunter spent most of his last years here. He was increasingly plagued by stomach pains, and in 1931 after an unsuccessful operation, he died; an entry in his diary provides a fitting epitaph, 'Everyone must choose his own way, and mine will be the way of colour'.