James McIntosh Patrick was born in Dundee. He displayed a facility for painting and drawing from an early age and went on to study at Glasgow School of Art from 1924 to 1928. By his mid-twenties he had won national recognition as a printmaker of highly detailed landscape panoramas and townscapes. When the print market slumped in the early 1930s he resumed oil painting, choosing mainly landscapes in and around the Dundee area. These paintings were executed with a painstaking attention to detail, but the artist would often rearrange the topography, shifting mountains, changing scale and altering perspective for pictorial ends.