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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


90 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Mound, Sculpture had its origin early in the present century, though in past times the Scottish School of ?Painters ranked among its number several celebrities. Of these the most noted was George Jameson, born at Aberdeen in 1586; he studied under Rubens, and won himself the name of the Scottish Vandyke. Charles I. sat to him for his portrait, as did many other great Scotsmen of the period. He was succeeded by the elder Scougal, a painter of many works ; Scougal the younger ; De Witte ; Nicolas Hude, a French Protestant refugee; John Baptist0 Medina, a native of Brussels, whose son John was a ?( Limner? in Hyndford?s Close in 1784; Aikman; Wait; Allan Ramsay (son of the poet); Norrie, the landscape painter;? the Runcimans, Brown, and latterly David Allan, Graham, Wilkie, Gibson, Thomson, Raeburn, and the Watsons. The first movement towards fostering native art was, undoubtedly, the appointment by the Board of Trustees, in 1760, of a permanent master for the instruction of the youth of both sexes in drawing, thus Iaying the foundation of a School of Design. The second important organisation was that named the ?Institution for the En. couragement of the Fine Arts,? founded on the 1st of February, 1819, on the model of the British Institution of London, for the annual exhibition oi pictures by old masters, and subsequently those of living artists. It consisted chiefly of gentlemen, who, on the payment of A50, became shareholders or life-members. The first exhibition by the Institution was in York Place, in March, 1819, but owing to certain complications between it and artists generally, they were, even if members, not permitted to exercise the sliL!itest control over the funds. Prior to this time the leading artists resident in Edinburgh had associated together for the purpose of having an annual exhibition of their works, which was also held in York Place. The first of these occurred in 1808, and Lord Cockburn refers to it as the most gratifying occurrence of the period, and as one that ?proclaimed the dawn of modern Scottish art.? Among the pictures shown on that auspicious occasion the catalogue records three by George Watson, including the portrait of the celebrated Bishop Hay; three by A. Nasmyth; two by Douglas, one being a portrait of Mrs. Boswell of Auchinleck ; three fancy pictures by Case ; ?? The Fa1 of Buchan crowning Master Gattie,? by W. Lizars; a black chalk landscape by Thomson; and in the succeeding year, 1809, the catalogue mentions, briefly noted, five by Raeburn, including his Walter Scott; three by Gorge Watson, one being the ?? Portrait of an Old Scots Jacobite;? three by Thomson of Duddingston ; a fancy picture of Queen Mary, by.John Watson, afterwards Sir J. W. Gordon. Carse, called the Teniers of Scotland, died early ; but ?this exhibition did incalculable good. It drew such artists as we had out of their obscurity; it showed them their strength and their weakness : it excited public attention: it gave them importance.? During five exhibitions, between 1809 and 1813, the members thus associated saved ,61,888, hut not being sufficiently restricted by their laws from dissolving at any time, the sum amassed proved a temptation, and it was divided among the exhibitors. The Society then broke up and dispersed, and it was while they were in this state of disorganisation that the Directors of the Institution, finding the old masters not sufficiently attractive to the public, made overtures to the artists for an exhibition of modern pictures and sculpture under their auspices, and to set the proceeds aside for the benefit of the said artists and their families. Thus the first exhibition of the works of living artists under the direction of the Institution took place in 1821, and it proved such a success that it was repeated yearly till I 82 9. The Institution had in 1826, besides one hundred and thirty-one ordinary members, thirteen honorary, five of whom were artists, under the title of Associate Members, and the exhibitions were held in the Galleries of the Royal Institution, for which an attnual rent of A380 was paid; but as great discontent was expressed by artists who were Associate Members, because they were denied all consideration in the inanagement in the year mentioned, they resolved to found a Scottish Academy. It was in the summer of 1826 that the document by which this important movement was inaugurated went round for signature in the hands otillr. William Nicholson. When published, twenty-four names appeared to it : those of thirteen Academicians, nii e Associates, and two Associate Engravers. The first general meeting of ?The Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture,? was held on the 27th of May, 1826, Mr. Patrick Syme in the chair, and the following gentlemen were elected as office-bearers for the year :-George Watson, President ; William Nicholson, Secretmy ; Thomas Hamilton, Treamrn: The Council consisted of four. Mr. George Watson, who has been justly deemed the founder of the Academy, was the son
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The Mound.] GEORGE WATSON, P.R.S.A. 91 of John Watson of Overmains, in Berwickshire, his mother being Frances Veitch, of the Elliock fimily. He was a cousin of Sir Walter Scott?s, and was born in I 767. He studied art under Nasmyth and Sir Joshua Reynolds, and before the time of his election had won a high reputation as a portrait painter. From 1808 to 1812 he was President of the Associated Artists of Scotland. His brother, Captain Watson, R.N., was the, father of Sir John Watson-Gordon, also a president of the Academy ; and his nephew, William Stewart Watson, was an artist of some repute, whose chief work is the ?? Inauguration of Burns as Poet Laureate or Grand Bard,? now in the Masonic Hall, George Street, and, as a collection of portraits, is historically curious. George Watson?s son, W. Smellie Watson, was also R.S.A., and died in No. 10 Forth Street in 1874, the same house in which his father had held some early exhibitions about the close of the last century or beginning of the present. ? The President and Council resolved that the first exhibition of their infant Academy should take place early in February, 1827, in two large galleries which they rented, in 24 Waterloo Place, for three months at eighty guineas, and subsequently at one hundred and thirty pounds per annum. Opposed by those who should have aided it, the Academy had a hard struggle for a time in the first years of its existence. Application was made to the Home Secretary, the future Sir Robert Peel, for . a charter of incorporation, and it was favourably viewed by those in office, and submitted to the Lord Advocate. Eut though the application was generously and warmly seconded by Sir Thomas Lawrence, then President of the Royal Academy of London, it was put off for two years, ?and ultimately refused,? says Sir George Harvey ?? on grounds which the Academy could never learn; and though they applied for permission to do so, they were never allowed to peruse the document which induced his lordship to decide against their claim. . . . Curiously enough, although the request of the Academy for a charter of incorporation was at this time denied, the Institution had that distinction conferred upon it, and henceforth came to be designated the Royal Institution.? The first general exhibition of the Scottish Academy being advertised for February, 1827, ? the Royal Institution, under the immediatepatronage of His Mq>siY,?? was, in a spirit of genuine opposition, advertised to open at the same time ; but by the time of the third Exhibition, ? the Royal Institution,? says Sir George, ?? was fairly driven out of the field ; ? and among the contributors were the future Sir Francis Grant, John Linnell, and John Martin, and one of Etty?s magnificent works, now the property of the Academy, was for the first time hung upon its walls, while many Scottish artists in London or elsewhere, watched with patriotic interest the progress of art in their native land, and the Institution rapidly began to take a subordinate position ; and by a minute of the 10th July, 1829, twenty-four of its artists, weary of its rule, were admitted as members of the Scottish Academy, thus raising the numerical force of the latter to thirty-nine. Eventually the number of Academicians became forty-two. In the rank of Associate Engravers was the well-known William Lizars, for as the law stood then he could not be elected an Academician, engravers being then limited to the position of Associate, but after a time they were rendered eligible to occupy any rank in the Academy. George Watson, the first President of the Scottish Academy, died on the 24th of August, 1837, at No. 10 Forth Street, in his seventieth year. For a long time previously his occupation of the chair had been nominal, his age and declining health precluding his attendance at council meetings- A white marble slab in the west .wall of the West Kirkyard marks his grave and that of ? Rebecca. Smellie, his spouse, who died 5th May, 1839, aged 74 years.? In the subsequent November William Allan, RA. (afterwards knighted), was elected president, and during his term .of office the long-desired object was accomplished, and the Academy came to be designated at last ?The Royal Scottish Academy,? incorporated by royal charter on the 13th of August, 1838, consisting now of thirty Academicians and twenty Associates-a consummation of their wishes for which they were greatly indebted to the warm and earnest interest of Lord Cockburn. By its charter the Academy is to consist of artists by profession, being men of fair moral character and of high repute in art, settled and resident in Scotland at the dates of their elections. It ordains that, there shall be an annual exhibition of paintings, sculptures, and designs, in which all artists.of distinguished merit may be permitted to exhibit their works, to continue open six weeks or longer. It likewise ordains that so soon as the funds of the Academy will allow it, there shall be in the Royal Scottish Academy professors of painting, sculpture,, architecture, perspective, and anatomy, elected according to the laws framed for the Royal Academy of London; and that there shall be schools to provide the means of studying the human form with respect both to anatomical knowledge and taste of
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