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Scottish American Artists

John Smibert (c. 1684-1751), born in Edinburgh, came to America in 1728 and settled in Boston, where he met success as a portrait painter. He was the first painter of merit in the colonies, and painted portraits of many of the eminent magistrates and divines of New England and New York between 1725 and 1751, the year of his death. His work had much influence on the American artist, John Singleton Copley. Gilbert Charles Stuart (1755-1828), born in Rhode Island of Scottish parents, was the foremost American portrait painter of his day. He painted several portraits of Washington, and also portraits of Presidents John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Justice Story, Fisher Ames, John Jacob Astor and others. Cosmo Alexander, a skilled portrait painter, born in Scotland, was his teacher for a time. Charles Fraser (1782-1860), born in Charleston, South Carolina, of Scottish ancestry, first studied law and retired with a competency. He then took up art and achieved eminent success in miniature painting and as a painter of landscapes, pictures of genre, still life, etc. William Dunlap (1766-1839), artist and dramatist, founder and early Vice-President of the National Academy of Design, was of Ulster Scot descent. His family name was originally Dunlop. Robert Walter Weir (1803-89), of Scots parentage, is best known for his historical pictures, he being one of the first in America to take up this branch of the art. "The Embarkation of the Pilgrims" (1836-40) in the Rotunda of the Capitol at Washington is by him. Russell Smith, born in Glasgow in 1812, was a scientific draughtsman and landscape painter. Two of his finest landscapes, "Chocorua Peak" and "Cave at Chelton Hills" were exhibited in the Philadelphia Exhibition of 1876. His son, Xanthus (b. 1839), was a well-known marine and landscape painter and painted many of the naval engagements of the Civil War. James Hope, born near Abbotsford in 1818, settled in New York in 1853, distinguished as a landscapist, was chosen an Associate of the National Academy in 1865. Alexander Hay Ritchie (1822-95), born in Glasgow and educated in Edinburgh, was a most successful painter in oils as well as an engraver in stipple and mezzotint. His paintings of the "Death of Lincoln" and "Washington and his Generals," obtained great popularity. As a portrait painter fine examples of his work are "Dr. McCosh" of Princeton, "Henry Clay," etc. He also did a good deal of book illustrating. Thomas Lachlan Smith (d. 1884), also born in Glasgow, was noted for his Winter scenes. Two notable pictures of his, "The Deserted House" and "The Eve of St. Agnes," were exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition. Still another Glasgow artist, John Williamson (1826-85), born at the Tollcross in that famous city, became an Associate of the National Academy, and made the scenery of the Hudson and the Catskills his special study as shown by his "The Palisades," "Sugar Loaf Mountain," "Autumn in the Adirondacks," etc. William Hart (1823-94), born in Paisley, became an Academican in 1857, and was afterwards President of the Brooklyn Academy and of the American Water Color Society. James McDougall Hart (1828-1901), born in Kilmarnock, brother of William Hart, already mentioned, Academican of the National Academy of Design, was noted for his landscapes and paintings of cattle and sheep. His "Summer Memory of Berkshire" and his "Indian Summer" attracted considerable attention at the Paris Salon in 1878. James David Smillie (1833-1909), son of James Smillie, the Scottish engraver, during the Civil War made designs for government bonds and greenbacks. In 1864 he took up landscape painting and was one of the founders of the American Water Color Society (1867) and National Academican in 1876. His brother, George Henry Smillie (b. 1840), was also distinguished as a landscape painter. He made a sketching tour in the Rocky Mountains and the Yosemite Valley in 1871, and became a National Academican in 1882. Walter Shirlaw, born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1838, died in Madrid, Spain, in 1909, was the first President of the Society of American Artists. His easel pictures "are marked by rich color and fine composition, and he is one of the few American artists who have successfully painted the nude. His water-colors and etchings have brought him high reputation in these forms of expression." Walter MacEwen, born in Chicago of Scottish parents, has painted many pictures and has received medals and decorations for his work. In 1895-96 he painted nine large panels and a number of small ones for the Hall of Heroes in the Library of Congress. George Inness (1825-94), the famous American painter, is believed to have been of Scottish ancestry. James T. Dick (1834-68), William Keith (b. Aberdeenshire, 1839), Robert Frank Dallas (b. 1855), John White Alexander (b. 1856), Robert Bruce Crane (b. 1857), Addison Thomas Miller (b. 1860), and John Humpreys Johnston, are all artists of Scottish parentage or Scottish ancestry. John Robinson Tait (b. 1834), artist and author, son of a native of Edinburgh, has written much on art subjects. John Wesley Beatty (b. 1851), Art Director of the Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, is of Scottish parentage. John Ward Dunsmore (b. 1856), Director of the Detroit Museum of Arts and Founder of the Detroit School of Arts; and John Ferguson Weir (b. 1841), Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Yale University, are of Scottish descent.

Alexander Lawson (1773-1846), born in Lanarkshire, died in Philadelphia, was famous as the engraver of the best plates in Alexander Wilsons's Ornithology and the plates on conchology for Haldeman and Binney. His son, Oscar A. Lawson (1813-54), was chart engraver of the United States Coast Survey, 1840-51. Samuel Allerdice engraved a large number of plates of Dobson's edition of Rees's Cyclopædia, 1794-1803. Hugh Anderson, a Scot, did good line and stipple work in Philadelphia in the first quarter of the nineteenth century. George Murray, born in Scotland, died in Philadelphia in 1822, organized the bank-note and engraving firm of Murray, Draper, Fairman & Co., in 1810-11, the best note engravers in this country in their day. John Vallance, also born in Scotland, died in Philadelphia in 1823, was one of the founders of the Association of Artists in America, and Treasurer of the Society of Artists in Philadelphia in 1810. James Smillie (1807-85), born in Edinburgh, died in New York, was celebrated as an engraver of bank notes and as an engraver of landscapes. Among his best works are Cole's series "The Voyage of Life," and Bierstadt's "Rocky Mountains." Dr. Alexander Anderson (1775-1870), the "Bewick of America," born in New York of Scots parentage, at the age of ninety-three engraved some illustrations for Barbour's "Historical Collections of New Jersey." Robert Hinschelwood, born in Edinburgh in 1812, studied under Sir William Allen, was landscape engraver for Harpers and other New York publishers and also engraver for the Continental Bank Note Company. John Geikie Wellstood, born in Edinburgh in 1813, was another eminent engraver. In 1858 his firm was merged in the American Bank Note Co., and in 1871 he founded the Columbian Bank Note Company of Washington, D.C. He also made many improvements in the manufacture of banknotes. Charles Burt (c. 1823-92), born in Edinburgh, died in Brooklyn, a pupil of William Home Lizars of Edinburgh, did some fine plates and portraits for books and for several years was one of the chief engravers for the Treasury Department in Washington. Hezekiah Wright Smith, born in Edinburgh, in 1828, engraved portraits of Daniel Webster, Edward Everett, and his head of Washington, after the Athenæum head by Gilbert Stuart, is said to be "the best engraving of this famous portrait ever made." Nathaniel Orr (b. 1822), of Scottish ancestry, retired in 1888 "with the reputation of having brought the art of wood engraving to the highest perfection, and the signature 'Orr,' cut in the block was always a sure guarantee of art excellence." Robert Shaw, born in Delaware in 1859 of Scottish parentage, has made a reputation by his etchings of famous historical buildings. His etching, the "Old Barley Mill" ranks as one of the best etchings made in this country. A few other Scottish engravers who produced good work were Robert Campbell, William Charles (d. Philadelphia, 1820), Alexander L. Dick (1805), W.H. Dougal (he dropped the "Mac" for some reason), Helen E. Lawson (daughter of Alexander Lawson already mentioned), John Roberts (1768-1803), William Main Smillie (1835-88), son of James Smillie mentioned above, and William Wellstood (1819-1900).

John Crookshanks King (1806-82), born in Kilwinning, Ayrshire, emigrated to America in 1829, and died in Boston, was celebrated for his busts of Daniel Webster, John Quincy Adams, Louis Agassiz, the naturalist, Ralph Waldo Emerson, etc. He also excelled as a maker of cameo portraits. Thomas Crawford (1814-57), one of the greatest if not the greatest sculptor of America, was of Scottish descent. His works include "Armed Liberty" (bronze doors), Beethoven, bust of John Quincy, Washington, "Orpheus," etc. Frederick William MacMonnies, born in Brooklyn in 1863 of Scottish parents (his father was a native of Whithorn, Wigtownshire), is sculptor of the statue of Nathan Hale in City Hall Park, New York; "Victory" at West Point, etc. Robert Ingersoll Aitken, born in San Francisco of Scottish parents, is designer of the monuments to President McKinley at St. Helena, Berkeley, and in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. He also designed the monument to the American Navy in Union Square, San Francisco. In 1906 he moved to New York and has executed busts of some of the most prominent Americans of the day. Notable of his ideal sculptures are "Bacchante" (1908), "The Flame" (1909), and "Fragment" (1909). John Massey Rhind, Member of the National Sculpture Society, one of the foremost sculptors of the present day, was born in Edinburgh in 1858. James Wilson, Alexander Macdonald (1824-1908), and Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866) are also of Scottish origin.

Alexander Milne Calder, born in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1846, began life as a gardener, studied with Alexander Brodie and John Rhind and in London and Paris, came to America in 1868, and is best known as having made the sculpture for the Philadelphia City Hall including the heroic statue of William Penn, which crowns the tower. His son, Alexander Stirling Calder, born in Philadelphia in 1870, is also a sculptor of note, and was acting chief of the Department of Sculpture, Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, 1913-1915. Robert Tait MacKenzie, born in Ontario, Canada, in 1867, son of Rev. William Mackenzie, a graduate of Edinburgh, has created several groups of athletes in action of great force and beauty. Dr. Mackenzie is a physician and director of the Department of Physical Education in the University of Pennsylvania.

Thomas MacBean, the architect of St. Paul's Chapel, Broadway, New York City, built in 1764-66, was a Scot who received his training under James Gibbs (an Aberdonian), architect of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London. John Notman (1810-65), born in Edinburgh, designed and constructed some of the most important buildings in Philadelphia and also the State Capitol, Trenton. James Renwick (1818-95), born in New York city of Scottish ancestry, planned the distributing reservoir on Fifth Avenue, New York, where the New York Public Library now stands. He was one of the greatest architects in this country, and the beauty of his work—to cite only a few of his most notable creations—is amply attested by Grace Church, Calvary Church, and St. Patrick's Cathedral, in New York; the Smithsonian Institution and Corcoran Art Gallery, in Washington; and Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. John McArthur (1823-90), born in Bladenoch, Wigtownshire, designed and constructed Philadelphia City Hall, Lafayette College, the "Public Ledger" building in Philadelphia, several hospitals, etc. Alexander Campbell Bruce (b. 1835), of Scottish parentage, designed a number of court-houses and other public buildings in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and North Carolina, besides schools, libraries, churches, hotels, etc. He easily became the foremost architect of the South. Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-86), of Scottish descent, drew the plans for many important buildings, but Trinity Protestant Episcopal Church in Boston, is considered his masterpiece. James Hamilton Windrim (b. 1840), architect and Director of Public Works in Philadelphia, was of Ulster Scot parentage. His services were utilized in the planning and construction of some of the most important buildings in Philadelphia. The Masonic Temple in that city is believed to be his masterpiece. The designer of many of the notable bridges of Philadelphia was Frank Burns (1844-1913), an architectural draughtsman of Scottish descent. Harold Van Buren Magonigle (b. 1867), designer of the monument to the Seamen of U.S.S. Maine (1900), Cornell Alumni Hall, Ithaca, the National McKinley Memorial at Canton, Ohio, etc., is the grandson of John Magonigle of Greenock. The builder of the world famed Smithsonian Institution in Washington was Gilbert Cameron (d. 1866), a native of Greenock, and Scottish stone-masons were largely employed in the construction of many of the most important buildings in the country, such as the Metropolitan Museum and Tombs in New York, the Capitol in Albany, the State House in Boston, the City Hall in Chicago, etc. Alexander McGaw (1831-1905), born in Stranraer, Wigtownshire, was famous as a bridge-builder and as builder of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor. John L. Hamilton (1835-1904), born in Newmilns, Ayrshire, came to the United States in 1853, and soon became eminent as a builder.

Duncan Phyfe, maker of exquisite furniture, who adapted and improved the Sheraton style, and considered by good judges to be the equal of Sheraton, Hipplewhite, and Adams, was a Scot who came to America about 1784. His father was John Fife of Inverness. Dyer, who devotes a chapter of his Early American Craftsmen to him, says "no other American made anything comparable to ... the exquisite furniture of Duncan Phyfe." The name of Samuel McIntire (d. 1811) stands out pre-eminent as master of all the artists in wood of his time. An account of his work is given by Dyer with illustrations of his work. In 1812, Thomas Haig, a native of Scotland, a Queensware potter, started the Northern Liberties Pottery, and turned out a beautiful quality of red and black earthenware. About 1829 the works of the Jersey Porcelain and Earthenware Company (founded 1825) were purchased by David and J. Henderson. Some of the productions of the Hendersons are especially sought after by collectors. The firm is now known as the Jersey City Pottery. The Scottish firm of J. and G.H. Gibson, glass-stainers, Philadelphia, obtained a national reputation for artistic work. Daniel and Nathaniel Munroe, clockmakers, were famous as such in Massachusetts in the beginning of the nineteenth century. Henry Mitchell (1810-93), born in Fifeshire, was the pioneer wagon-builder of the west. Frederick Turnbull (1847-1909), who introduced the art of Turkey-red dyeing into this country about 1850, was born in Glasgow.

Will C. Macfarlane (b. 1870), organist and composer, was born in England of Scottish origin. His compositions include songs, anthems, organ music, a Lenten Cantata, "The Message from the Cross." His setting of Katherine Lee Bates's patriotic hymn, "America, the Beautiful," has had nation-wide usage. William Wallace Gilchrist (b. 1846), composer, was of Scottish descent; and Edward Alexander MacDowell (1861-1908), composer and Professor of Music in Columbia University, was of Ulster Scot origin.

Robert Campbell Maywood (1784-1856), actor and theatrical manager in Philadelphia, was born in Greenock, Scotland. Edwin Forrest (1806-1872), the celebrated American actor, was the son of a native of Dumfriesshire; and Robert Bruce Mantell, who made his debut in Rochdale, England, was born in Irvine, Ayrshire, in 1854. James Edward Murdoch (1811-93), grandson of a Scottish immigrant, was Professor of Elocution at Cincinnati College of Music, and later a leading actor on the American stage. During the Civil War he devoted his energies to support of the Union and gave readings for the benefit of the United States Sanitary Commission. Benjamin Franklin Keith (1846-1914), theater proprietor, was of Scottish descent. Mary Garden, Singer and Director of Grand Opera, was born in Aberdeen in 1877. James H. Stoddart, the veteran actor, was also of Scottish origin.

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