Painter Miguel McKinlay (1895-1959) was born in Guardalajara province in Castille Spain to a Spanish mother Ramona Perez and Scottish father William Mackinlay (1839-19270. The town was probably Cabanillas del Campo. The family of seven children came to Perth, Western Australia with their father, a civil engineer, about 1905 after their mother died. The family lived on Highgate Hill. Miguel, the fifth child, attended Highgate School where a drawing of his was included in an album presented to Governor Bedford in 1909. He was apprenticed in 1910 to Meston & Walters as a signwriter and at the same time studied at Perth Technical School under J.W. R. Linton in 1910-1912. He exhibited a study of a head in charcoal with the West Australian Society of Arts in 1911 and posters in 1912. McKinlay won a number of scholarships and prizes and was well regarded as a promising young artist. Linton thought him “the most successful student of all those who passed through this school.” In 1912 he was described as “ ...this promising young artist shows considerable talent. His drawing is excellent, his colour values are gauged with remarkable judgement and the treatment is broad, daring yet eminently successful.”

In 1914 he won a national poster competition, held an exhibition in St George’s Lesser Hall, Hay Street with Stan Cross and set off for London where he undertook commissions at Savoy House. The war intervened and he served until invalided out with a gunshot wound. McKinlay did not return to Australia instead he studied in London, Paris and Madrid. He went on to become a Royal Academician and exhibit in London, Glasgow, Paris, Vienna and New York. An illustrated article on him was published in the Studio Magazine in December 1926. From 1928 he was part of the artists’ colony who occupied the Meadow Studios at Bushey and made a good living exhibiting, illustrating books, and handling poster and advertising work. Clients included Nestl_s, Bovril and Bournville Cocoa.

McKinlay offered his The Bath to the Art Gallery of Western Australia after it was hung and well received in London in 1931. The work was described as having the colours of Seurat. Curator Pitt Morison was critical and recommended against purchasing it. Art critic Leslie Rees wrote of another of his works: “His T_te -_-T_te was one of the most discussed and most outstanding pictures in the last Academy. Like Cezanne, whose method he follows, he is concerned with expression not surfaces, but of essential structures that is to say he paints not what he sees, or not only what he sees but what he knows to be there. He achieves par excellence the roundness of things that are round …”. The Art Gallery of Western Australia eventually accepted a work Fishing Boats as a gift.

Dr Dorothy Erickson
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