Diploma of the Edinburgh College of Art, presented to James Alexander Johnstone

Diploma of the Edinburgh College of Art, presented to James Alexander Johnstone, presented to James Alexander Johnstone, 1920. UC/MBL/2151

presented to James Alexander Johnstone, 1920. UC/MBL/2151

James Johnstone’s enrolment at the Edinburgh College of Arts as a day student in 1914 saw him choose to major in design over painting, sculpture and architecture. This meant that his university education was grounded in the precise techniques, botanical motifs and the placement of art in daily life that characterised the British Arts and Crafts movement. He was quickly recognised as a diligent and personable worker, with a recommendation letter writing that ‘I observed in Mr Johnstone the spirit of the Craftsman, always eager to continue at the work in hand until it was completed to his entire satisfaction.’ Upon his graduation from the College in 1920, Johnstone was awarded his diploma. Unlike the stark degrees that are the norm in universities of today, this one is elaborately decorated. It has been signed by the College’s Lord Provost, the Director, the Head of Section and Secretary, and in 1921 was endorsed with the acknowledgement of Johnstone’s completion of a post-graduate year. The diploma measures a large 690x480mm, allowing for a grandiose declaration of his completion of the course, and an ornately decorated border. This is comprised of botanical forms, angels unravelling the scroll of the Edinburgh College of Arts, and shields representing its four disciplines. It exemplifies the esteem placed upon the completion of a university course in the early twentieth century.

James Johnstone : A selection of artworks


Click on the thumbnails to discover more about this striking selection of artworks by James Johnstone. Images selected and written about by Alice Tappenden.

Allandale Springtime, James Johnstone, c. 1953. Oil on Canvas. UC/MBL/2330
Untitled [Botanical Drawing], James Johnstone, Graphite and watercolour on paper, 1920. UC/MBL/2133
Untitled [Design for Chalice], James Johnstone, Pencil and ink drawing on paper, Date unknown. UC/MBL/2061
Untitled [Sheet of sketches for decimal currency], James Johnstone, Graphite, pen and ink on paper, c. 1966. UC/MBL/2138
Diploma of the Edinburgh College of Art, presented to James Alexander Johnstone, 1920. UC/MBL/2151
Floral Design, James Johnstone, Graphite and watercolour on paper. UC/MBL/2109
Untitled [Head Study], James Johnstone, Charcoal on paper, 1913. UC/MBL/2154
On the Solway, James Johnstone, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2236
Untitled [Design for Centennial Stamp, ChristChurch Cathedral], James Johnstone, c. 1949, Watercolour on paper. UC/MBL/2103
Untitled [The Camp, Woodend], James Johnstone, 1945, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2212
Untitled [Woodend Beach], James Johnstone, 1945, Oil on canvas. UC/MBL/2217
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