Search just our sites by using our customised search engine
Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Art in Scotland
Chapter X

THE development of architecture made very considerable progress in Scotland during the eighteenth century, although the best of the native architects found their most remunerative employment in England, where a larger field for their talents was opened up consequent on the union of the kingdoms. The great and important works of Inigo Jones in classic architecture of the previous century, followed up by those of Sir Christopher Wren, raised that form of art to a higher level than it had occupied since the period prior to the Reformation, and gave it the first great impetus in its modern form in England.

Among the Scottish architects who migrated to England, the earliest was Cohn Campbell, who died in 1734, and whose name is associated with very little work in his native country. He practised almost exclusively in England, where he was at one time Surveyor of Works at Greenwich Hospital, and superintended the publication of the first three volumes of the 'Vitruvius Britannica,' for 1713, 1717, and 1725, the original projector of which was Lord Burlington;' the succeeding volumes of which more fully justify its title. Among the many designs in this work which were made by Campbell, he includes that of the mansion-house of Duncan Campbell of Shawfield, which formerly stood in Glassford Street, Glasgow, "the best situated and most regular city in Scotland. The principal apartment is in the first storey; the staircase is so placed in the middle as to serve four good apartments in the second storey; the front is dressed with Rustick of a large proportion, and a Dorick cornice and balustrade; the garrets receive light from the roof inwardly: the whole building is of good stone and well finished." Campbell possessed little imagination, at times avowedly reproducing the designs of Palladio, among the latter being that for Mereworth in Kent. He is mentioned as the architect for the Rolls, and Wanstead House, which was built in 1715, but demolished early within the present century. Foreign architects are said to have given a preference for the latter work, which Gilpin describes as being simple and magnificent, adding that it is difficult to say whether we are better pleased with the grandeur and elegance without, or with the simplicity and contrivance within.

About the middle of the century the grave closed over the remains of two Scottish architects of considerable eminence— William Adam of Maryburgh, and James Gibbs of Aberdeen. The former of these, who died in 1748, was of great ability and talent, and did very much for the advancement of the art in Scotland, by introducing a purer taste than that which formerly prevailed. His reputation, however, has been eclipsed by that of his sons, Robert and James. His principal works have been published in his 'Vitruvius Scoticus,' and he is best known as being the designer of the old Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

The well-known James Gibbs (1674-1754), like his fellow- countryman Campbell, is almost unknown by his works in Scotland, where his name can probably only be associated with the Church of St Nicholas, in his native Aberdeen, the design for the reconstruction of which he presented to the city. This is rather heavy, professing to be classic, but of no particular style; alto- gether unworthy of the architect of St Martin's-in-the-Fields, and the Radcliffe Library at Oxford, his two most successful works. He was the only son of Peter Gibbs of Footdeesmire, a respectable merchant in Aberdeen, who died when James was a child. After his father's death he was taken care of by an aunt and her husband, took his degree of M.A. at Marischal College, and left Aberdeen at the age of twenty to follow the profession which he had early resolved upon. He spent six years with little benefit in an architect's office in Holland, where his talents attracted the notice of John Erskine, Earl of Mar, who was notable for his kindness and benevolence as well as his architectural skill: that noble assisted him with the means of going to Rome in 1700, where he studied for some ten years with Garroli, a sculptor and architect of some note. He returned to London in his thirty-sixth year, where Mar being then Secretary of State for Scotland in Queen Anne's Tory Ministry, Gibbs got a share of the works then found necessary for making London religious by Act of Parliament—a privilege which had been denied to Vanbrugh on account of having shocked the feelings of the pious by his comedies. During the progress of his first building, King's College at Cambridge, his patron, stung by neglect, disgusted with Court life, and alarmed by the impeachment of Oxford and Strafford, and the exile of Ormond and Bolingbroke, joined the Rebellion, by which his family was ruined. His first edifice in London was the Church of St Martin's, finished in 1726, which Ferguson mentions as "certainly one of the finest, if not the handsomest church of its age and class:" the octastyle portico of Corinthian columns, he adds, is as perfect a reproduction of that classical feature as can well be made. The entire design is suggestive of a classical temple, hurt by the introduction of two storeys of windows between the columns.

'The greatest but not the purest of Gibbs' works is the Radcliffe Library at Oxford, built also in a classical temple form, rising from circular plan on the centre of an oblong of 370 by i xo feet, with cupola 140 feet high and 100 in diameter. While the dome adds much to the picturesqueness of Oxford, the building itself is defective in proportion, and too much has been sacrificed for effect.

In 1728 he published a folio volume of his designs, which yielded him a profit of £1900. This, with a set of the Radcliffe Library plans, were his only published works. He died unmarried, after suffering for five years from a painful illness, and was buried in the church of St Mary-le-bone. To the Radcliffe Library he bequeathed his papers and five hundred volumes; out of gratitude to his benefactor he left £1000, the whole of his plate, and an estate worth £280 per annum, to the Earl of Mar's only son; and while forgetting none of his personal friends, he left £100o each to the Foundling and St Thomas's Hospitals.'

More intimately associated with the architectural development of his native country was Robert Adam (born 1728, died 1792), son of the already mentioned William Adam, also a native of Fife- shire, and educated at the Edinburgh University with a view to following the profession of his father. In his early life he enjoyed the friendship of Archibald Duke of Argyll, Sir Charles Townsend, and the Earl of Mansfield, and about the middle of the century spent three years in Italy. During his study there of the growth and decline of classic architecture, he had often regretted the absence of remains of the ancient patrician dwellings, and recognising the fact that Roman architecture had experienced a revival under the reign of Diocletian, he resolved to visit and study the remains of that emperor's palace at Spalatro in Dalmatia. For this purpose he associated with Charles Louis Clerisseau, an artist and antiquary, and accompanied by two experienced draughtsmen sailed from Venice. In about five weeks they completed a series of drawings of the details and such parts of the edifice as had escaped mutilation by the natives, in the course of which they were interrupted by the authorities. The drawings were published in London, having been finished there with the aid of Clerisseau, and were dedicated to George III., who had previously appointed him his architect. At this time he was elected a member of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies, and in 1768 was chosen to represent Kinross-shire in the House of Commons. Clerisseau went to Paris, where his great talents led to him being appointed architect to the Russian empress. James Adam having now risen into a good position as an architect, was associated in the business with his brother; and these two, conjointly with the other brothers William and John in the business part, planned and successfully carried out a scheme for raising the north bank of the Thames, and laying out the streets and terraces of the Adeiphi, so named in commemoration of their partnership.

The works were commenced in 1768 on the property known as Durham Yard, the site of Durham House and its episcopal gardens, then "a corrupt mass of coal-sheds and lay stalls, resting on a swamp of black port-wine-coloured mud, where mud- larks waded in purgatorialughs for the flotsam and jetson of the sewers." The Adams iad agreed to lease this ground for ninety-nine years from the Duke of St Albans, at a yearly rent of £1200—al enormous risk for the tenants, when the scheme is considered of levelling a steep incline by building streets of houses on a vast area of solid arches. At this time the streets of London were deplorably ugly, and although Walpole in 1773 speaks of the Adams' buildings as "warehouses laced down the seams, like a soldier's trull in a regimental old coat," both outside and inside, the houses were vastly superior in point of taste to those which preceded them. As was to be expected, great difficulties were encountered in carrying on the undertaking. For the encroach- merit upon the river an Act of Parliament was necessary, the preamble to which set forth that the unusual and unnecessary width of the river at that part weakened the current. Parliament passed the Act, notwithstanding the opposition of the City as conservators of the river, after which appeared the following jeu d'esprit

Four Scotchmen by the name of Adams,
Who keep their coaches and their madams,'
Quoth John, in sulky mood to Thomas,
'Have stolen the very river from us.'"

When the Adams originally planned the buildings, they seemed to have been under the impression that they had secured the occupation of the arches upon which the houses were to rest, as warehouses for Government stores. In consequence of this implied agreement not being carried out, their arrangements were upset to such an extent that they were nearly ruined, and in 1774 they obtained an Act of Parliament permitting them to dispose of the unfinished houses by means of a lottery. The scheme of the lottery consisted of the issue of 4370 tickets at £50 making £218,500. The prizes numbered 108: six of them were for sums of from £5000 to £50,000; one hundred for sums of from £10 to £800; £5000 for the first drawn ticket, and £25,000 for the last drawn. The lottery seems to have been sufficiently successful in relieving them of their undertaking, and in 1867 the whole property passed into the possession of the Messrs Drummond, who had obtained the estate from the trustees of the Duke of St Albans.

In 1776 the two brothers published the fourth number of 'The Works in Architecture of R. and J. Adams,' which was of equal importance with that on the Palace at Spalatro, and containing among the plates views of Sion House, Caen Wood, Luton Park House, the gateway of the Admiralty, and the Register House at Edinburgh. One of their most important works in Scotland was the College of Edinburgh, designed by Robert in 1785, but modified for want of means. Within his time only the entrance front was completed, the central portion being designed by Playfair. While remarking that this edifice is not sufficiently bold for its position, Mr Ferguson states that "we possess few public buildings presenting so truthful and well-balanced a design as this, and certainly the Adams never erected anything else which was nearly so satisfactory." Among their other works in Scotland may be mentioned the Trades' Hall of Glasgow (1791), by Robert; and the Assembly Rooms, and Royal Infirmary (1792), in the same city, by Robert and James. The plan of the Government House at Calcutta was copied from that of their Keddlestone House in Derbyshire.

The numerous works of the two brothers gave rise to what is sometimes known as the "Adams' style," the chief characteristics of which consist of the introduction of large windows, often rather bald-looking for want of dressing, grouped, three or more together, by a great glazed arch. Their buildings possess a certain classical grace and attempt at refinement then very uncommon, and are in their internal as well as external walls enriched by finished detail of much delicacy, sometimes verging on weakness. Many of Robert's designs have suffered from being altered in the course of construction, thus to some extent detracting from his deservedly high reputation. Robert Adam was also a fairly good watercolour painter of landscapes, generally drawn with the pen, washed over with colour in the manner of the period: they are distinguished by a luxuriance of composition and effective light and shade. His death, caused by the bursting of a blood-vessel, occurred on the 3d of March 1792. James, who survived him for about two years, carried on the business. Among other work, he designed the New Tron Church of Glasgow (1794), and superintended the building of the old Jamaica Street Bridge (1767) from Mime's design. Considering the advantages which Robert enjoyed in regard to his study as an architect, it is sometimes assumed that he did not accomplish what might have been reasonably expected of him. Contemporaneous with the Adams was James Craig, son of William Craig, an Edinburgh merchant, and Mary, youngest sister of Thomson, the poet of the 'Seasons.' His skill was almost entirely devoted to the erection of private dwellings in the newer part of Edinburgh, and in 1786 he issued a quarto pamphlet containing illustrations and a scheme for remodelling the old part of the town, which was fortunately not adopted. A portion of his intended plan was in the form of a crescent, of which he said "it embraces the University and the Royal Infirmary, and would represent the city, like an open generous friend with extended arms, giving a hearty welcome to all strangers from the South." There was at that time a mania for "improving" Edinburgh. In 1768 he published a large "plan of the new streets and squares intended for the city," consisting of a bald and formal arrangement of blocks extending from St Andrew Square to George Square, even less satisfactory than those subsequently erected according to his later scheme. The drawing of his plan, which was enthusiastically received, and for which he was rewarded with the freedom of the city in a silver casket and a gold medal, bore on the lower left hand a rather well-executed vignette of Cupids crowning the Arts, and on the top a cartouche containing a stanza from his uncle's poems. The late Mr David Laing possessed a portrait attributed to Martin, in which the architect is complacently contemplating his later plan of the new Town Hall, with a proposed circus and equestrian statue, while an elevation of his Physicians' Hall, by which he expected to hand down his name to posterity, is spread at his feet. The latter building was of considerable grace and harmony of proportion, but with no originality, and possessed incommodious internal arrangements. Its demolition to give place to the Commercial Bank is not to be regretted. He died on the 23d June 1795.

Of much superior talent was William Stark, whose early death in October 1813 prevented the fulfilment of the promise of his youth. He established his reputation chiefly at Glasgow, where he designed St George's Church (1807); the Hunterian Museum, in connection with the University, now demolished; the City Jail and Court-Houses (x8io), the portico of which is nearly the proportion of the Parthenon; and the Lunatic Asylum (18xo). He removed to Edinburgh on account of the state of his health about 1811, where he designed the beautiful interior of the Library of the Writers to the Signet, and the Advocates' Library. The works which he executed were classic, of a fine style, graceful and dignified. By these he excited public attention, and improved the practice of the art in Scotland by giving good principles, particularly with regard to composition in street architecture, regarding which the magistrates of Edinburgh consulted him as to laying out the ground on the east side of Leith Walk. On the 20th of the month in which he died, we find Sir Walter Scott writing to Miss Baillie, "This brings me to the death of poor Stark, with whom more genius has died than is left among the collected universality of Scottish architects."

During and since that period, the art has been still further developed by the erection of numerous public and private edifices in nearly every part of Scotland, many of them by men of genius, a list of whose names and works would make a lengthy catalogue. Among these may be mentioned James Gillespie, afterwards Gillespie Graham of Orchill, who designed a number of churches: the fine Saxon chapel of the Whitehouse Convent, near Bruntsfield Links, is considered his chef-d'oeuvre. The modem front of the Parliament House, and St George's Church, Edinburgh, and the Custom-House at Leith, are among the works of Robert Reid of Edinburgh. Archibald Elliot was the architect for the County Buildings—the fine portico of which was modelled on the Erechtheum at Athens—for the Regent Bridge, and the new prison at the Calton in Edinburgh; also the Royal Bank of Scotland in Glasgow. Peter Nicholson (1765-1844) did much for the art in Scotland: he was unkindly refused a small pension by the Government to ease the poverty of his old age, although this had been occasioned by the publication of many works to which our workmen are largely indebted. No department of art has made more rapid progress in Scotland than that of architecture, the present professors of which fully sustain the credit gained for it by men later than those mentioned, such as William Playfair, the architect of the Royal Institution of Edinburgh; Thomas Nicholson, one of the founders of the Scottish Academy; David and William Hamilton; Kemp, of Scott Monument fame; the Bryces, Burn, and Rhind of Edinburgh; "Greek" Thomson of Glasgow, &c.

It was only towards the close of the eighteenth century that the modern school of sculpture began to show symptoms of its development in Scotland. Among the earliest professors of the art, although entirely in a miniature form, was the venerable John Henning (1771-1851), so well known by his very exquisite small restorations of the Parthenon and Phigalian friezes and other similar works. He was born of humble parentage in Paisley, and on leaving school at the age of thirteen was put to work at a carpenter's bench, that being the trade followed by his father. During a summer holiday in 1799 he visited Edinburgh, where he lodged with a fellow-tradesman who happened then to be working in Raeburn's house, and who treated him to a sight of the great artist's works. The portraits which he thus saw excited his admiration to such an extent, that he conceived the idea of himself trying to do something in the way of modelling; and on returning home to Paisley, he attempted likenesses of some of his bench- mates cut upon blocks of wood, in which he became so successful that in the following year some of his productions in wax attracted the notice of Mr James Monteith of Glasgow. He was advised by that gentleman to leave his trade, which he did rather unwillingly, having, as he used to say, "just buckled" to his wife Kate, and went to Edinburgh, where, by the good offices of Mrs Grant of Laggan, he was brought under the notice of Francis Homer, Lord Jeffrey, Brougham, and Mrs Siddons, who employed him on medallion portraits. On the advice of some of these, he went to London in 1811, where Mr Homer took him to see the Elgin Marbles, the sight of which so kindled his enthusiasm that he resolved to remain some time longer than he intended. The study of the Marbles was at that time limited to the students of the Royal Academy, but this difficulty was overcome by means of an introduction to Lord Elgin. He was nearly deprived of this privilege on account of his rather outspoken strictures on the educational method pursued by the Academy. In the meantime he had contracted an intimacy with his countrymen Wilkie and William Thomson, and by the kindness of Fuseli, who recognised genius in the plain outspoken Scotsman, was permitted to attend the life class at Somerset House. Here his attendance was of short duration, owing to the officiousness of a Jack-in-office who exercised his power of turning him out on account of not being admitted in accordance with the rules. About this time, Mrs Siddons having shown the medallion portrait which Henning had executed for her at Edinburgh to the Princess of Wales, he received sittings from the Princess Charlotte, who, on seeing some of his drawings from the Elgin frieze, commissioned him to do one of the groups miniature-size in ivory. This was followed immediately by orders for seventeen more of the groups from the Duke of Devonshire and others, besides numerous commissions for wax medallion heads. Of the latter class of work, he exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1812 one named the Earl of Wellington, and a frame containing nine heads, including Walter Scott, Dr Carlyle, the Earl of Lauderdale, and J. F. Erskine. He did not exhibit again at the Academy till 1828, although the names of his two sons appear as exhibitors several years prior to this. Encouraged by his success and the high opinions expressed of his work by Flaxman and Canova, he determined to continue the Elgin Marbles series, but cutting them in slate, and afterwards casting—an undertaking which, after twelve years' labour, brought him fame, and also the mortification of seeing his work extensively pirated by numerous copies. His two sons had now grown up and acquired sufficient proficiency to aid him in his work. He made similar reproductions from Raphael's cartoons, and the friezes on Hyde Park Gate, in addition to numerous busts and medallions. The anaglyptic process of engraving, by means of which works in low relief are reproduced by a mode of machine-ruling, in which one point traversing the relievo governs another traversing the plate, had just been introduced, and he arranged with Mr Freebairn to publish the friezes in this method, by subscription. Only a portion of the second plate, however, was finished when Freebairn died, and the artist being too poor to carry out the series himself, and too sensitive to call in the subscriptions, the work was not proceeded with. The ease with which inferior casts of his works were produced robbed the artist of the reward of his labour, and left him at the close of his life a poor man. For a few pence a cast could be obtained of what had cost him months of close, thoughtful, and exhaustive labour. Taste changes with time: at the present moment it would be difficult to get even a pirated copy of his Elgin frieze complete in good form, but probably within a very few years it will be rediscovered, become popular, and again consigned to temporary oblivion.

After an absence of upwards of forty years, he paid a visit to his native town in 1846, where he met with an enthusiastic welcome, being presented with the freedom of the town, and entertained at a public dinner presided over by Professor Wilson. His sole income at this time is understood to have been a small pension bestowed on him by the Spalding Club; and the late Mr Hall, through the columns of the 'Art Journal,' made an eloquent appeal to the subscribers to advance their subscriptions, so as to enable the old man to carry on the engravings, and thus reap the benefits of his labour. Mr Hall, in his appeal, remarks "that there must be something great in the man who, commencing his career at forty years of age, has been able to reproduce the works of Greek sculptors and Italian painters in a style original and perfect in its kind; who by the force of his own powerful mind supplying all deficiencies of early education, has acquired a knowledge of Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Italian, and French; who for forty years has numbered among his friends the names most celebrated in literature and art." [Art Journal, and other sources.]

The early Scottish sculptors, so few in number, literally struggled into fame against the most adverse circumstances. Self-taught mostly, and born in humble circumstances, the wonder is that any of them even attained mediocrity in their art. There was no demand for or appreciation of sculpture in the country up till quite a recent date, and such sculptors as then existed found no higher class of employment than the carvings on chimney-pieces and tombstones. Early within the present century the art no doubt received a considerable impetus from the presence in Edinburgh for some years of the English Samuel Josephs, who was connected with the early period of the history of the Scottish Academy, the sculptor of the well-known statues of Wilberforce and Wilkie, and who stood high in the estimation of the famous Sir Francis Chantrey. A further taste was also excited by the visit of Chantrey to Scotland in 1818, whose works there, and others contributed to the Edinburgh exhibitions, induced some of our natives to endeavour to emulate them. Among the earliest of these was William Mossman' (1796-1851), son of the parish schoolmaster of West Linton, whose early years were occupied by monumental carving, &c., and attending the Trustees' Academy. When about the age of eighteen he went to Glasgow for some six years, after which he returned to Edinburgh to manage Deacon Thin's marble-work, furnishings of such material being then very much in demand for dwelling-houses. He settled down permanently in business in Glasgow about 1828, where he executed several busts, including those of "Upright Aitken," a surgeon, and the well-known Dr Clelland, the latter being said to have been the first bust done in Glasgow.

About 1836 died John Greenshields, the Clydesdale sculptor as he is called, being a native of the Upper Ward of Lanarkshire. The Advocates' Library in Edinburgh contains a seated life-size statue from his chisel of Sir Walter Scott; and in the Glasgow University Museum are some groups about two feet in height from Burns's "Jolly Beggars," of much character and humour and fair execution. A similar kind of artist was James Thom, who in 1828, without any education in art, produced two figures of a homely character, representing Tam o' Shanter and his drouthy friend Souter Johnny. He was a native of Ayrshire, and apprenticed by his own wish to a stone-mason in Kilmarnock, where his master, it is said, found him rather dull, and more inclined to work at ornamental carving, for which there was no demand in the town. On the termination of his indenture he went to Glasgow, but began his first essays in sculpture in 1827, at which time, being in the neighbourhood of Ayr, he solicited permission from Mr Auld to copy a portrait of Burns which that gentleman possessed. He made a tracing of the portrait, which was a copy of Nasmyth's, and within two or three days produced, as was to be expected, a somewhat defective bust. Encouraged by Mr Auld, he next attempted a head of Tam o' Shanter, which was doubtless a rather crude performance, as he finished it at one sitting in Crosby churchyard, where he was then working, employing for the purpose a stone taken from the ruinous doorway. By the following day Mr Auld had procured him a stone, which was placed in a proper workshop, out of which Thom hewed and chiselled his full-length figure of Tam, the type of which he took from Douglas Graham, a well-known Carrick farmer. This was followed by that of Souter Johnny, "his ancient, trusty, drouthie cronie," said to be the surreptitious likeness of a Maybole cobbler, who refused to sit as the model although offered two guineas a-week, exclusive of unlimited supplies of the national drink offered as an additional inducement. No bribe would tempt any others to sit for any length of time. Even among the bonnie lasses of Ayr, none would permit their charms to be transferred to the representation of the landlady. One sonsy damsel, on being pressed, replied" Na, na! I've nae mind tae be nicknamed 'landlady'; and as for gudewife, twa speerins maun gang to that name." The two figures were exhibited in different parts of the United Kingdom, and are well known to every visitor to the classical monument designed by Hamilton which stands on the banks o' Doon, near to "Afloway's auld haunted kirk." His studio in Ayr was visited by strangers interested in the locality, and he produced many similar works, such as the Landlord and his Wife, a figure of Old Mortality, and replicas of his two best-known figures of various sizes. His Old Mortality was thought out during a voyage from Leith to London about 1830. He read the novel on board the packet, and made a sketch of his idea on the cover of the book. A few days after his arrival in London he was introduced to Wilkie, who showed him his works, among which, to Thom's surprise, he saw an almost identical drawing of the same figure, which Wilkie had made some years before.1 The last fourteen years of his life were passed in the United States, where he had purchased a farm near Ramapo in the Rockland country, on the line of the Erie Railway, and where he died in 1850.

Still another self-taught sculptor, Robert Forrest, appeared about the same period, also a native of Lanarkshire, having been born at Carluke, in the Upper Ward. He was originally a common mason, and about x8xo conceived the idea of attempting sculpture from having seen some carved work at Mauldslie, Craignethan, and Douglas Castles. As if ashamed of his resolve, his first attempts were made in a secluded spot among the woods on the banks of the Clyde, to which he went morning and night, as he could spare time from his ordinary avocation. About the year 1817 a Colonel Gordon, when out shooting, came across the sculptor in his roofless sylvan studio, surrounded by carvings of animals and some small figures. Induced, no doubt, partly by the novelty of the circumstance, as well as to encourage the young sculptor, he purchased a small carving of Bacchus, and subsequently another figure for one of his friends. This led to him becoming known as something better than a common workman, and the order from Mr Robertson of Halicraig for a full-sized figure of a Highland chief, caused him to open a kind of workshop in the neighbourhood of a quarry, a few miles below Lanark. He now attempted other equally ambitious figures, such as Old Norval, Sir John Falstaff, Rob Roy, and Sir William Wallace. The last statue was executed for the town of Lanark, and on its inauguration Forrest was carried in triumph through the streets in a trades procession. About 1823 he began to attempt some ideal subjects from the 'Gentle Shepherd' and Burns's poems; but these were laid aside on receiving a commission for a statue of Lord Melville, for a naval monument to be erected by subscription in St Andrew Square in Edinburgh, from designs by Sir Francis Chantrey. This was followed by the colossal figure of John Knox the Reformer, in the Glasgow Necropolis, after which, aiming still higher, he ventured on some equestrian groups. The latter consisted of the Duke of Wellington leaning against the shoulder of his pawing charger; Queen Mary on a rearing horse, accompanied by Lord Herries, a work which is said to have received high commendation from Sir Walter Scott; the Duke of Marlborough, treated after the manner of the famous Elgin Marbles ; and the Monk Baston presenting some verses to King Robert the Bruce, who is mounted on a restive charger, after the battle of Bannockburn. These were all cut from a greyish sandstone of a hard and durable kind, known to masons as liver-rock, and was taken from a quarry in the parish of Lesmahagow. About the year 1832 his works were placed on exhibition in an enclosed area beside the National Monument on the Calton Hill of Edinburgh. He died on the 29th December 1852.

Apart from these untutored efforts, the earliest Scottish sculptor of great importance was Thomas Campbell, born of humble parentage in Edinburgh on the 1st of May 1790, and who died in February 1858. He served his apprenticeship along with the already mentioned William Mossman, to a carver in Edinburgh, who chiefly laid himself out for marble-cutting. While assisting at the carving of a chimney-piece in the house of Mr Gilbert Innes of Stow, in St Andrew Square, that gentleman was attracted by his intelligence, and afforded him the means of going to London, where he for some time attended the classes of the Royal Academy. By the same generous aid he was enabled to proceed to Rome in 1818, where he soon was so successful that he repaid with interest the money Mr Innes had advanced. This gentleman, who died worth over a million, prided himself on being Campbell's patron.

He was early patronised in Rome by the Duke of Devonshire, for whom he executed the sedent statue of the very beautiful and handsome Princess Pauline Borghese, Napoleon's sister, who allowed him full opportunities for his work, and also permitted him to take casts from her hands and her feet, which were of very refined and perfect form: these Campbell made studies from, and they were afterwards cast in bronze and in silver, and much prized for their great beauty. This statue was undoubtedly his finest work. It created a considerable sensation in the Paris Exhibition Of 1855. An eminent French critic wrote of it then, that "one would take for a copy of an antique statue the Princess Pauline Borghese of M. Campbell. She is seated in a curule chair, and contemplates the portrait of Napoleon. There was no necessity in representing the Princess Pauline Borghese to search for a beau ideal; it was only required to reproduce as faithfully as possible the pure and charming characteristics of the model placed before the sculptor. This M. Campbell has accomplished. The drapery lovingly caresses the body, but it seems to us that the contour of the bust is not sufficiently full, if one would take as a standard the delicious statue by Canova, so much admired in the Pitti Palace at Florence." The Ganymede was shown at the same Exhibition, and equally and worthily upheld the reputation of the artist.2 The Princess Borghese statue was deposited at Chatsworth, for which place Campbell also made a colossal bust of the Duke of Devonshire.

During the several years in which he was at Rome, nearly all his time was passed in his studio in the Piazza Mignanelli, being of a sensitive and retiring nature. His principal associates were Thorwaldsen and two or three of the French artists, with whom he had learned to talk in their native language, although of rather imperfect education. Having now commissions on hand to the value of about thirty thousand pounds, he divided his time between Rome and London, at both of which places he retained a studio. He exhibited constantly at the Royal Academy, to which his last contributions were busts of Lady and Lord George Bentinck in 1857.. He was a man of middle stature, robust and lively, but it is said that his sometimes brisk and boisterous manner was assumed to conceal a natural shyness and depression.

Among his numerous works were several executed for the Buccleuch family; the bronze statue of the Duke of York on the Esplanade at Edinburgh; the group of Lord Hopetoun in St Andrew Square, in which the artist adopted the expedient of placing the soldier standing beside his horse—not always a suitable treatment; a marble statue of the Duke of York in the Senior United Service Club House in Pall Mall; the striking and dignified heroic-sized statue of Mrs Siddons in Westminster Abbey; the colossal granite statue of the Duke of Gordon at Aberdeen; and busts of the Duke of Wellington and Earl Grey, commissioned by her Majesty the Queen. He did comparatively few fancy works, not being possessed of a ready imagination, and slow in creation. His works in this form are characterised by simplicity and chasteness, good examples of which are his Psyche executed for Mr R. C. Nisbet Hamilton, and a statue of Lord Dalkeith, son of the Duke of Buccleuch, in the character of a boy-hunter, accompanied by a greyhound.

Lawrence Macdonald (b. 1798, d. 4th March 1878) was a native of Gask in Perthshire, and practised at first as an ornamental sculptor in Edinburgh, at the same time attending the Trustees' Academy. He went to Rome in 1822, where he remained four years, returning with several busts, including one of the Duke of Athole. In Edinburgh he did busts of the mother of Lord Brougham, George Combe the phrenologist, and Professor Wilson and his two daughters. He returned to Rome in 1832, where he held the position of one of the chief British sculptors, and his country knew him no more. He was buried not far from the grave of Gibson in the cemetery near the Porta San Paolo. Besides busts, he executed numerous ideal works, such as the Eurydice, Arethusa, Ulysses and his Dog, a Bacchante, &c.
Among the numerous Scottish sculptors now deceased who were born within the present century, the most important were Patrick Park (b. at Glasgow 1809, d. x8th August 18), who studied in Rome and executed numerous busts and other works, and whose colossal statue of Wallace was completed by the aid of subscriptions in 181 ; James B. Fillans (b. in Wilsontown, Lanarkshire, 18o8; d. Glasgow, 27th September 1852), who studied for a short time in Paris and Italy, and left numerous works, among the most prominent of which are his bust of Mr Oswald, the fine colossal statue of Sir James Shaw at Kilmarnock, the Blind Girls (in plaster), and a very beautiful life-sized figure of Rachel weeping for her Children, which has been adopted for the monument over his grave in Paisley cemetery. David Dunbar, who died in 1866, studied in Italy, and in London assisted Sir Francis Chantrey, after which he executed many busts, among which were those of Earl Grey, Lord Durham, and Grace Darling, from the last of which he made several copies. Alexander Munro, a native of Inverness (b. 1825, d. at Cannes ist January 1870, went to London about 1848, and afterwards executed many very beautiful works, mostly groups of children, an alto-relievo of the Duchess of Valombroso, a statuette of Hippocrates, Paolo and Francesca, busts of Sir Robert Peel and Sir J. Millais, and numerous medallions. William Brodie, from being a common plumber, rose into eminence in the art, and after a short visit to Rome, executed among many other fine works the marble statue of Lord Cockburn for the Parliament House of Edinburgh; another of Dr Brewster; and in bronze, those of Dr Graham, Master of the Mint, John Graham Gilbert, R.S.A., and the Prince Consort in Perth. His numerous ideal works include some of the figures on the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, the Blind Girl, Enone, Corinne, and Dante.

Few artists have done more to promote an appreciation of the art of sculpture in Scotland than the late Alexander Handyside Ritchie, whose works enrich many of the public and private edifices of Edinburgh. He was born in 1804, and went to Rome, where he wrought for a considerable time in the studio of the great Thorwaldsen, afterwards practising in Edinburgh, where he died in 1870, and was buried at Inveresk. His younger brother John (x8xo-i81) was a seer of visions, from one of which originated his model of the Deluge, commissioned by a Mr Davidson of London, and which he went to Rome to execute, where he died of malaria, caught during a trip to Ostia. The art has been worthily carried on by other sculptors more recently deceased, the last of whom, Mr T. S. Burnett, A.R.S.A., in his death (March 1888) has left another blank in the ranks of the Scottish Academy.

Among the better class pieces of sculpture imported into Scotland, on account of being so little known, as well as of their great excellence, may be mentioned the "Craigentinny Marbles," as they are called, which decorate the two sides of a very large kind of Pompeian sarcophagus near Portobello, the burial-place of Mr Miller of Craigentinny. They represent the Song of Miriam and the Passage of the Red Sea, and were modelled at Rome about the middle of the present century by a young British artist named Gattley, who was engaged on them for several years, but prevented by his early death from following out a career so nobly begun. The Passage of the Red Sea was exhibited in London in 1862.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus