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Gunn studied briefly at the Glasgow School of Art and Edinburgh College of Art. In 1911 he enrolled at the Academie Julian in Paris. It was during his time in France that Gunn developed his radical approach to compositional arrangements, evident in paintings such as Harbour in the Cd'Azur with its high horizon line. During the First World War he saw active service in France. On returning to Britain he became one of the most sought after society portraitists and his 1953 portrait of Queen Elizabeth II is in The Royal Collection.
This excellent example of his work was executed in 1926 while Gunn was staying on the Cote d'Azur. The harbour is probably Antibes. The cool tonal palette reflects Gunn's interest in the work of Whistler while the finish (being smoother and finer that his portraits and beach scenes) gives this painting a strong sense of peace and tranquillity.