NS2776 : Gravestone of John Fleming

taken 6 years ago, near to Greenock, Inverclyde, Great Britain

Gravestone of John Fleming
Gravestone of John Fleming
This stone, commemorating the artist John Fleming, is located near the north-eastern corner of the Duncan Street Burial Ground. When the ground was surveyed c.1969 for the Monumental Inscriptions records (see the end-note), this was a fenced enclosure. It is no longer so, but the gravestone itself remains.

I have seen the detail at the top described as a skull, but, while it does (whether intentionally or not) have a similar appearance, it is primarily a representation of an artist's palette and brushes.

The ribbon crossing it has text that is rather worn, but which reads "Lakes of Scotland" (on which, see below). The main inscription on the stone is as follows:

"In memory of John Fleming, artist, who died at Greenock 16 February 1845. Erected by a few friends and admirers of his genius."

(A few sources give 1794 as the year of his birth, and others 1792. Very little information about him has come down to the present day, but his obituary appeared in the Greenock Advertiser, in the issue of 18 February 1845.)

The information that I present below was obtained almost entirely from the explanatory panels beside his paintings in Greenock's MacLean Museum and Art Gallery; the gallery has a few of Fleming's paintings on display, and I made a point of reading the relevant panels when I revisited it in 2016.

According to what I read there, John Fleming was born in Glasgow, and was apprenticed to a house-painter at the age of 14. His own introduction to art came when his work brought him to Hamilton Palace (no longer extant, but demolished in 1927), which had one of the finest art collections in the country.

When in Glasgow, Fleming is thought to have met the portrait painter James Saxon, who spent some time there. Fleming subsequently moved to London, but an artistic commission brought him to Greenock, where he would settle, in 1812 (the maritime artist Robert Salmon had arrived there just a year earlier).

Fleming worked in collaboration with the engraver Joseph Swan on the volumes "Select Views on the River Clyde" and "The Lakes of Scotland", which featured engravings by Swan, based on Fleming's original paintings, and which also included historical and descriptive illustrations by John M Leighton (see NS3184 : The former Blackhill Quarries beside Luss Road for one of Leighton's books).

At the time of writing, the paintings by Fleming that are on display at the MacLean Museum and Art Gallery include a self-portrait, a view of "Greenock from the East", a portrait of John Galt (who, as it happens, is buried only a short distance away from this gravestone, in the adjacent Inverkip Street burial ground: NS2776 : Burial place of John Galt), and several others. One of Fleming's paintings is thought to have provided the basis for the frontispiece of Daniel Weir's 1829 "History of Greenock".

See LinkExternal link (at ArtUK) for many of his paintings, including several that are in the collection of the MacLean Museum and Art Gallery, but which are not, for reasons of space, on public display there.
Duncan Street Burial Ground
This burial ground, created on land feued in 1816, is adjacent to the earlier Inverkip Street Burial Ground Link but it was, at first, separate from it (see Link for a more detailed history). An original entrance from Duncan St was closed after that street was levelled; an opening to the adjacent Inverkip Street Burial Ground was then created instead. "Renfrewshire MI pre-1855" (vol 1) has all of the inscriptions. The Duncan Street Burial Ground is discussed in the last few pages of LinkExternal link (PDF).
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NS2776, 857 images   (more nearby )
Photographer
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Date Taken
Monday, 8 July, 2013   (more nearby)
Submitted
Thursday, 1 August, 2013
Geographical Context
Burial ground, Crematorium 
Primary Subject of Photo
Gravestone 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2742 7612 [10m precision]
WGS84: 55:56.8220N 4:45.9149W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! NS 2742 7612
View Direction
North-northwest (about 337 degrees)
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Memorial 

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