Jemima was born in 1823, the youngest daughter of James Wedderburn, Solicitor General for Scotland, and Isabella Clerk, a member of the celebrated Clerk of Penicuik family ( Her uncle was Sir George Clerk, the 6th Baronet, and a keen member of Penicuik Curling Club. She married Hugh Blackburn, Professor of mathematics at Glasgow University, in 1849, and together they bought Roshven Estate in 1854. Their homes in Glasgow and at Roshven became a focus for visits from some of the most celebrated figures of the century including John Ruskin, Anthony Trollope, the Duke of Argyll, Wellington and Disraeli, Lord Kelvin and James Clerk-Maxwell. A cousin of Sir James Clerk Maxwell, she became a close friend of John Ruskin, who spoke of her as "the best artist he knew", and of Sir Edwin Landseer.
Jemima was a watercolourist of outstanding technical ability whose priceless legacy of paintings cover every facet of the life and customs of 19th Century Scotland. She painted her family and friends, important visitors, and local people going about their everyday work; cutting peat, gathering bracken, making hay and many other rural activities. Beatrix Potter describes Jemima in her journal as a "broad intelligent observer with a keen eye for the beautiful in nature". Many of her paintings have only recently come to light, and her watercolours are to be found in galleries throughout the world.
Jemima was residing at Penicuik House on 15th January 1847 and sketched the historic, first Grand Match of the Grand Caledonian Curling Club ( played on the High Pond that day. Her painting was presented to Sir George Clerk and it has been hanging in Penicuik House ever since. The significance of that painting in the history of our sport was lost on the young, twenty-four years old Jemima, but one hundred and sixty-six years later it provides a unique window on the dawn of our modern game.
The Artist
Jemima Wedderburn