Guthrie was born in Greenock, the youngest son of the Rev. John Guthrie, a minister of the Evangelical Union church. He originally enrolled at Glasgow University to study law, but abandoned this in favour of painting in 1877.
Unlike many of his contemporaries he was mostly self-taught and lived most of his life in the Scottish Borders.
He was strongly influenced by the French Realists, especially Jules Bastien-Lepage, and was associated with the Glasgow Boys. He was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1888, and a full member in 1892. In 1902 he became RSA president and he was knighted the following year. In 1920 the King of Belgium conferred Guthrie with the Cross of Commander of the Order of the Crown. A member of Glasgow Art Club Guthrie exhibited often at the club's annual exhibitions were donated to Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
What is so engaging about his work is the different styles and his ability to maser all. His portraits are very Victorian and realism, yet he could paint impressionist and was accomplished in multiple mediums.
Personally i love his Jules Bastien-Lepage realist style and the innocence he captures in these rural landscapes.