The artist Miguel Mackinlay/McKinlay has been variously described as Spanish, Scottish and Australian and all three descriptions are partially correct. Born in the province of Guadalajara in Spain in 1893 to a Spanish mother and Scottish father he arrived in Western Australia as a twelve year old and undertook his major art training there. The boy showed a remarkable facility for capturing a likeness and at sixteen was apprenticed to sign writers Meston & Walters and attended classes at the Perth Technical School whose art master James W. R. Linton considered him the most successful student he ever taught. On moving to London to further his career he mixed and exhibited with Australians in his early years. He attended St Martin’s School of Art and during World War I sketched vivid images of life on the Western Front. However marrying a Londoner he stayed and enjoyed considerable success as an artist and illustrator. He became the ‘talk of the town’ being ‘hung on the line’ at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibitions in the competitive art world of early 1930s London. He and his family lived in an artists’ community in Bushey in Hertfordshire where he had a life as a busy commercial artist at a time when arguably commercial art was at its apogee. This is a short version of his story. It has been written to engender interest in the wider community for this forgotten artist.


Dorothy Erickson




The origins of this website are a clutch of unconnected enquiries over recent years, about the life and times of artist and illustrator Miguel Mackinlay (1893 -1959). These enquiries have led some of Miguel’s family descendants to undertake a project to research, script and document the artist’s life so that he may be more readily recognised and take up his place amongst the artists of his generation.


An enthusiastic group of individuals, identified on this website, was brought together over time to contribute to the project, professionally led by Dr Dorothy Erickson. The launch of this Stage One website follows about three years' work by the project team. In time, further website developments will occur, while an exhibition of Miguel’s works is a possibility as is a sponsored launch of a publication on the artist and / or a Catalogue Raisonné.


Although there was mainstream popularity for Miguel’s art during his life, it has since slipped from being of interest – we were pleased to see that in Summer 2017 the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art brought together some 70 paintings by a generation of artists under the banner of their ‘True to Life: British Realist Painting in the 1920s and 1930s' exhibition.

We hope that now the website is available, more of the artist’s works and aspects of his life will come to light with the result Miguel’s life and times will be better known and hopefully recognised and enjoyed.


The co-Sponsors and Miguel’s descendants recognise the considerable passion and professionalism deployed by Dr Erickson and the small team of dedicated professionals. Furthermore, a select number of individuals and institutions and friends of this project freely gave their time and advice.

The project’s co-Sponsors wish to express their appreciation and gratitude for the generous contribution, professionalism and efforts of all involved.

Our hope is that Mrs Terry Quarrington, the only surviving child of the artist, will want to give her blessing to this scholarship and its presentation.


Julia McKinlay, 2019

Michael McKinlay, 2019




About the Artist
The Work of Miguel Mackinlay

Miguel Mackinlay trained as a painter in Perth, Western Australia, and held his first successful exhibitions there. He arrived in London on the eve of World War I. After undertaking a large commission for Savoy House for the West Australian Government, he opted to continue his studies, until he joined the British Army in 1917. His vivid record of camp life can be seen in Section II, WWI War Drawings.


In 1920, Mackinlay made the first of his contributions to the magazine publishing industry, as an illustrator of popular fiction. He was adept and highly versatile, turning his hand to high society romances, crime thrillers, and stories set in remote corners of the British Empire, a source of great fascination to readers in Britain. His roots in the Antipodes helped him gain commissions to illustrate the work of several Australian writers. After the Second World War, as this type of publishing declined, he worked on publicity campaigns for some of the newly established advertising agencies. This material can be explored in Section IV illustration.


Despite losing his first five years in England to the war, Mackinlay intended to establish a reputation in Britain as a serious painter. During the 1920s, he met with mixed success. His contributions to the prestigious London Group and the New English Art Club were short-lived. He gained more attention in exhibitions devoted to Australian artists in London, which gave him both the confidence and the contacts to make inroads at the Royal Academy. His most ambitious pictures were admired there, entirely in tune with the emerging trend which re-evaluated traditional skills of drawing and composition as a vital reflection of the experience of modern life, and not its enemy. Around 1928, he settled in Bushey, just north of London. Taking a step back from the often antagonistic cross-currents of contemporary art in the capital, he joined a flourishing colony of artists with a strong faith in the value of traditional methods. The full range of Mackinlay’s work in oils, from his figure compositions to landscapes, portraits and still-life, is on view in Section I, Paintings.


Mackinlay’s successful career as an illustrator depended on his extraordinary talent as a draughtsman. While much of his published work was conjured out of his imagination, it was based on factual observation of the people and circumstances around him, more of which can be seen in Section II Drawings.


Timothy Wilcox





Contact us

If you wish to contact the co-Sponsors of the Miguel Mackinlay project because you: -

  1. have one of Miguel’s works
  2.  believe you may have one of Miguel’s Missing Works (see ARTWORKS)
  3. have information you wish to share which may be of academic interest
  4. would like further information on any of the website content
  5. would like to make a specific enquiry to any of the co-Sponsors


please use one of the following channels:




All material on this website, including text and images, is protected by copyright. It may not be copied, reproduced, republished, downloaded, posted, broadcast or transmitted in any way. Prior written consent of the copyright holder must be obtained for any use of material.


Copyright © 2019 Dr Dorothy Erickson, MJ McKinlay Will trust;

Mr. Timothy Wilcox, Mr. Michael McKinlay

Naked Lady

c1930, 68 x 84cm, oil on canvas

In Retreat – Resting in the Fôret d’Epernay, France

May 1918, 11 x 15.5cm, charcoal on paper

Provenance by descent in Artist’s Family



1893 - 1959


This website introduces to a new public a once feted artist who has almost slipped from art historical records. Miguel McKinlay/Mackinlay, born in Spain and educated in Western Australia, rose to be the toast of the town in the London of the 1930s yet is hardly known today. The reasons are twofold. Art history is not static. Fashions come and go and since WWII, with general academic interest in various post-war art forms such as Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art, the multiplicity of interwar styles, such as that which is now known as the British Realists, have largely been ignored and names important in the 1920s and 1930s have slipped from general knowledge. The second is that few of his works appear on the market. Those that we have documented are primarily held by the family, art museums or people connected with the artist in Australia who value them too much to part with their treasures.


The British Realists are currently being reassessed and it is time to reclaim Miguel whose work is held in public collections in Australia, Britain and USA. His portfolio includes a collection of poignant drawings undertaken in 1918 on the battlefields of the Western Front, some very fine paintings exhibited at the Royal Academy and a collection of drawings, sketches and lesser works. Miguel, a fine artist, was also a prolific illustrator for books and magazines undertaking the commercial work to provide for his family.


This website is stage one of a larger project aimed at making Miguel’s art more accessible to the public and we encourage public participation to help us locate missing works and assess his place in British art history.


Dorothy Erickson PhD.   Jan 8 2019



Lisa Goulding

date unknown, 74.5 x 62.5cm, oil on canvas

Signed MACKINLAY upper right



About the Project













Lisa Goulding, date unknown, oil on canvas, 74.5 x 62.5cm, signed MACKINLAY upper rightcription...