John Waldegrave Blyth

1873 - 1962

Industrialist and art collector. Born into an old Fife family which had built a successful linen manufactory in Kirkcaldy, Blyth joined the family business and was to make his fortune with orders from the military during the First World War. Blyth lived with his family at Wilby House, which he had built in 1909. The factory at Hawklymuir eventually closed in 1961.

As an art collector, Blyth preferred Scottish artists many of whom were his friends, and had a particular enthusiasm for the works of Samuel John Peploe (1871 - 1935), William McTaggart (1835 - 1910), owning almost 130 paintings by these artists, together with James Lawton Wingate (1846 - 1924), Edwin Alexander (1870 - 1926) and William George Gillies (1898 - 1973). With his house full, Blyth began to lend paintings to the Kirkcaldy Museum and Art Gallery. He served as Honorary Curator of the Gallery for 36 years and constantly refreshed those of his works on display there through a sense of duty to promote the enjoyment of art by the public. Blyth was appointed a Trustee of the National Gallery of Scotland in 1944.

On his death, Blyth's daughters sold 128 of his paintings to the Kirkcaldy Art Gallery for a modest price, where they remain today in the Blyth Room. Most of the remainder were auctioned in London for a rather larger sum!

Blyth was the maternal grandfather of politician Michael Portillo.

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