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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


92 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [The Mound. design, which shall consist of two departments : the m e appropriated to the remains of ancient sculpture, and the other to the study of living models. From that time matters went on peacefully and pleasantly till 1844, when 8 dispute about entrance to their galleries ensued with the subordinates of the Board of Manufactures, in whose building they were-a dispute ultimately smoothed over. In 1847 another ensued between the directors of the Royal Institution and the Academy, which led to some acritnonious correspondence ; but all piques and jealousies between the Academy and the Royal Institution were ended by the erection of the Art Galleries, founded in 1850. Six months before that event Sir William Allan, the second president, died on the 2 2nd of February, after occupying the presidential chair for thirteen years with much ability. It is to be regretted that no such good example of his genius as his ?? Death of Rizzio? finds a place in the Scottish National Gallery, his principal work there being his large unfinished picture of the ?? Battle of Bannockburn,? a patriotic labour of love, showing few of the best qualities of his master-hand, as it was painted literally when he was dying. ?TO those who were with Sir William in his latter days it was sadly interesting to see him wrapped up in blankets, cowering by his easel, with this great canvas stretched out before him, labouring on it assiduously, it may be truly said, till the day on which he died,? writes a brother artist, who has since followed him. ? The constant and only companion uf his studio, a long-haired, glossy Skye terrier, on his master?s death, refused to be comforted, to eat, .or to live.? His successor was Sir John Watson, who added the name of Gordon to his own. He was the son of Captain JamesWatson, RN., who served in Admiral Digby?s squadron during the first American war, Among his earlier works were the ? Shipwrecked Sailor,? ? Queen Margaret and the Robber,? ?A Boy with a Rabbit,? ?The Sleeping Boy and Watching Girl? (his own brother and sister); but it was as a painter of portraits strictly that he made his high reputation; though it is said that the veteran, his father, when looking at the ? Venus and Adonis ? of Paul Veronese, declared it ? hard as flints,? adding, ?I wouldn?t give my Johnny?s ? Shipwrecked Sailor? for a shipload of such.? In early life he lived with his father in 27 Anne Street, which he left regularly every morning at nine o?clock, ?and walking down the beautidul and picturesque footpath that skirted the bank af the Water of Leith, he passed St. Bernard?s, where almost invariably he was joined by the portly figure of Sir Henry Raeburn. Engaged in conversation, no doubt beneficial to the younger but rising artist, they proceeded to Edinburgh- Raeburn to his gallery and painting-room, No. 32 York Place, and John Watson to his apartments in the first flat of No. 19 South St. David Street, or, latterly, 24 South Frederick Street.?? During his presidency the Art Galleries were completed and opened. By the Act 13 and 14 Vict., cap. 86, the entire building and property were vested in the Board of Manufactures, as well as the appropriation of the buildings when completed, subject to the approbation of the Treasury, without the sanction of which no fee for admittance was to be charged on any occasion, except to the annual exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy. ?The general custody and maintenance of the whole building shall be vested in the Board of Manufactures,?? says the Government minute of 28th February, 1858 ; ?but the Royal Scottish Academy shall have the entire charge of the councilroom and library and of the exhibition galleries during their annual exhibitions.? After continuing in the exercise of his profession until within a few weeks of his death, Sir John Watson died at his house in George Street, 1st June, 1864, in his seventy-sixth year, having been born in 1788. He was succeeded as president and trustee by Sir George Harvey, born in Stirlingshire in 1805, and well known as a painter successfully of historical subjects and fabZeaux de genre, many of them connected with the stirring events of the Covenant He became a Scottish Academician in 1829, since when his popularity spread far and wide by the dissemination of numerous engravings from his works. He was president only twelve years, and died at Edinburgh on the zznd of January, 1876, in his seventy-first year. He was succeeded by Sir Daniel Macnee, R.S.A., who was also born in Stirlingshire in 1806, and began early to study at the Trustees? Academy with Duncan, Lauder, Scott, and other artists of native repute. He rapidly became a favourite portrait painter in both countries, and his famous portrait of the Rev. Dr. Wardlaw won a gold medal at the Paris International Exhibition of 1855. He has painted many of the most prominent men of the time, among them Lord Brougham for the College of Justice at Edinburgh. In connection with Scottish art we may here refer to the Spalding Fund, of which the directors of the Royal Institution were constituted trustees by the will of Peter Spalding, who died in 1826, leaving property, ? the interest or annual proceeds
Volume 3 Page 92
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