Born into an artistic family in Edinburgh in 1885, John MacLauchlan Milne was the son of the Scottish landscape painter Joseph Milne. Studying at the Edinburgh School of Art, he went on to serve in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War. Between 1919 and 1932 John spent a substantial part of the each year in France, initially in Paris and then in Cassis at the same time as Duncan Grant, S.J. Peploe and F.C.B. Cadell.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, MacLaughlan Milne returned to Scotland, settling at High Corrie on the Isle of Arran where he remained and painted until his death in 1957. Milne’s reputation was built on his working in a light, broad and self-assured manner, reflecting the influence of the colourists; indeed, Milne was often referred to as the Fifth Colourist, such was his reputation and connection, often exhibiting alongside the Scottish Colourists and sharing many of their patrons
John was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1934 and as a full member of the Academy in 1938. MacLaughlan Milne exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, the Glasgow Institute and exhibited his paintings in London and New York. A Centenary Exhibition of his work was held at the Dundee Art Gallery and Museum in 1985