Robert Scott Lauder

(25 June 1803 - 21 April 1869)

Robert Scott Lauder was a Scottish mid-Victorian artist who described himself as a "historical painter". He was one of the original members of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Lauder was born at Silvermills, Edinburgh, the third son of John Lauder of Silvermills (died 1838), Burgess of Edinburgh and proprietor of the tannery at Silvermills, by his wife Helen Tait (d.1850). After attending the Royal High School he went to London, where his eldest brother William was engaged in the family business.

He returned to Edinburgh about 1826, and was elected one of the original members of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1830. On 9 September 1833, at St.Cuthberts in Edinburgh he married Isabella Ramsay Thomson and they then went abroad, accompanied by his younger artist-brother, James Eckford Lauder. Robert studied for some years in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice and Munich.

Lauder returned to London in 1838, where he lived for several years, where his three children – Isabella, John, and Robert, were baptised at St.Thomas’s Church, Southwark, in 1840, 1841, and 1844. Whilst in London he exhibited at the Royal Academy and competed in the Westminster Hall competition of 1847, sending his "Christ walking on the Sea", which was subsequently purchased by Lady Angela Burdett-Coutts, 1st Baroness Burdett-Coutts. He became the first president of the short-lived National Institution of Fine Arts and also exhibited there.

He later removed back to Edinburgh in 1849, where both his sons -- Robert Scott Lauder (born 1844), who became a physician, and John Thomson Lauder (1841-1865) -- attended the Edinburgh Academy. Sir Walter Scott's novels provided him with subjects for many of his most successful historical paintings. About 1860, he suffered a paralytic stroke and did not practice after 1861. He died at Edinburgh from a bout of bronchitis, still paralysed. He is buried in Warriston Cemetery in Edinburgh, beneath a Sicilian marble slab carved by John Hutchison.

Chambers Biographical Dictionary; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers; The Edinburgh Academy Register, Edinburgh, 1914; Testaments of John Lauder of Silvermills & Helen Tait, in the National Archives of Scotland.

Paintings Portraits
Scene from The Bride of Lammermoor (1839) Robert Scott Lauder (self)
Hagar & Ishmael (1840) John Gibson Lockhart
The Trial of Effie Deans (1840) Reverend John Thomson of Duddingstone
Meg Merrilies (1842) William Simson, R.S.A.
Italian Goatherds entertaining a brother of the Santissima Trinita (1843) David Roberts Esq. in the Dress He Wore in Palestine, (1840)
Hannah presenting Samuel to Eli (1845) Thomas Duncan
Ruth "so she gleaned in the field until even" (1845)l John Henning
The Gow Chrom Reluctantly Conducting the Glee Maiden
to a Place of Safety (1846)
Elizabeth Lauder, Mrs. William Paterson, with her daughter Janet
Christ Teacheth Humility (1847) Sir Thomas Dick Lauder
Mother and Child (1848) David Scott
Christ and the Woman Taken in Adultery John Gibson Lockhart, with Charlotte Scott
Sentinels Sir John Steell
Thomas Thomson
Henry Lauder (the artist's brother) (c. 1825–1827)
Sir Archibald Alison, Bt.

Subject painter, brother of James Eckford Lauder [q. v.], was born at Silvermills, Edinburgh, the third son of a tanner of the place. An early aptitude for art received no encouragement at home; but the boy accidentally made the acquaintance of David Roberts, then an enthusiastic young painter, from whom he received welcome incitement and some hints in the management of colours. In June 1822, he entered the Board of Trustees' Drawing Academy, where he studied in the antique classes under Andrew Wilson. He next went to London, drew in the British Museum, and attended a life academy. Returning to Edinburgh in 1826, he continued his studies under his friend William Allan [q.v.], then master of the Trustees' Academy, whose classes he conducted for a year, in 1829-1830, during Allan's absence abroad.

From 1826 till 1830, he exhibited twenty-three works in the Royal Institution, Edinburgh, of which he was appointed an associate in 1828. He was one of the twenty-four artists connected with that body who, on 18 July 1829, were admitted members of the Scottish Academy -- which obtained its royal charter in 1838 -- and with few interruptions he contributed to its exhibitions from 1828 till the year of his death. He also exhibited in the Royal Academy and the British Institution, London, thirty-six works, from 1827 to 1849. His art was much influenced by the Rev. John Thomson, the painter-minister of Duddingston, whose youngest daughter, Isabella, he married. In 1833, he visited the continent, where he remained for five years studying the great masters in Venice, Florence, Rome, and Bologna, with marked improvement of his own work in dignity and in beauty of colouring. While abroad he was also much employed in portraiture. He returned in 1838, and resided in London; here his works attracted great attention, and he became first president of the National Institution of the Fine Arts, exhibiting in the Portland Gallery, Regent Street. In February 1852, (board minute) he was appointed principal teacher in the drawing academy of the Board of Trustees, Edinburgh, a position which he retained after the affiliation of the school with the Science and Art Department in 1858, and from which he retired in 1861. As a teacher he exercised a most beneficial influence upon the rising artists of Scotland: Paul Chalmers, Orchardson, Pettie, McWhirter, and Peter Graham were among the pupils whom he stimulated as well as instructed.

An attack of paralysis in 1861, compelled him to give up work. Lauder's art is distinguished by refinement and a delicate sense of beauty, by rich and pleasing colouring, and by much dramatic power. His 'Trial of Effie Deans,' 1840, now at Hospitalfield, Arbroath, is the greatest of his productions, and is perhaps the most vividly dramatic figure-picture executed in Scotland. Among his other important works are 'The Bride of Lammermoor,' 1831, which gained the Liverpool prize in that year; 'Christ walking on the Sea,' contributed to the Westminster Hall competition in 1847, and now in the Burdett-Coutts collection; 'Maître Pierre, the Countess of Croye, and Quentin Durward in the Inn,' 1851; 'Christ appearing to the Disciples on the Way to Emmaus,' 1851; and 'Christ teaching Humility,' 1848, which, along with other of his works, and his bust in marble by his pupil, John Hutcheson, R.S.A., is in the National Gallery of Scotland.

[Redgrave's Dictionary of Artists of the English School; Minute book of Board of Trustees; exhibition catalogues, and Catalogue of National Gallery of Scotland; Art Journal; Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 32, 1885-1900; Bryan's Dictionary of Painters and Engravers, edited by George C.Williamson; The Edinburgh Academy Register, Edinburgh, 1914.]

Lauder, Robert Scott was born in Edinburgh (1803-1869). He became a student of the Trustees Academy at the age of fifteen. About 1823, he went to London, studying for three years in the British Museum. He visited Italy in 1833, remaining until 1838, in close observation and study, in Rome and Florence. He resided in London until 1850, when he settled in Scotland, and became principal instructor in the Trustees Academy. He exhibited frequently at the Royal Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy, of which latter institution he was made a full member in 1830. He was the author of many popular pictures, illustrative of Scottish history and romance, many of which have been engraved. Among these may be mentioned, "Meg Merrilies," "The Fair Maid of Perth," ''The Bride of Lammermoor," and "The Trial of Erne Deans." His "Christ teaching Humility" is in the Scottish National Gallery. By reason of ill-health he did not practice his profession for some years before his death.

Artists of the Nineteenth Century, their Works, Biographical Sketches, By Clara Erskine Clement and Laurence Hutton. 1879.

A few years later than the origin of the pre-Raphaelite brotherhood, early in the fifties, and principally through Robert Scott Lauder's (1803-1869) influence as master of the Trustees Academy, a somewhat similar movement took place in Scotland, where art was also ripe for revolution or change. The earlier movement in London had no doubt its effect in Edinburgh, but each possessed its own characteristics, and while the Scottish like the English was back to nature, Lauder's controlling influence led it from an outworn convention into a nobler and higher one. It was not so much a revolution as a reconstruction. The pre-Raphaelites gave moral fervour and romantic glamour to British art, and founded it upon reality: the Scott Lauder group brought a more purely pictorial motive, a synthetic grasp of reality, and a splendid dower of colour. The Scots have produced little that is romantic in the sense that 'St. Agnes Eve' is, and nothing into which mysticism enters: but they were gifted with dramatic instinct and imaginative insight, and their work in genre, landscape, and portraiture is of great interest and artistic value. Unlike their English contemporaries they developed individually without losing the common bond of technique, colour, and idea with which they started, and their work to-day has a clear connection not only with the past of each but with that of one another.

G. P. Chalmers (1836-1878), was of all Scott Lauder's pupils the one most interested in purely artistic problems, and, although his technique was incomplete, his work, as it stands, is charming and suggestive, and has had a great influence upon his younger contemporaries and successors.

The influence of Scott Lauder persisted until recently, and even now, although much transformed, it forms a part of the artistic faith of Scotland. The outburst of Scottish talent between 1850 and 1860, was not kept up, but here and there a man emerged who has done fine things.

Four or five years after the Scottish movement just described, a new development took place in England. To the pre-Raphaelite passion for detail, this impulse added a classic feeling for form and an idyllic grace of sentiment. The intricacy of detail, which in the pictures of these artists is beautiful and expressive because they felt its loveliness, has become in those of their imitators meaningless and conventional, and in the delirious pursuit of trifles they have forgotten that such a thing as ensemble exists.

The genre picture, founded upon book or history, which was the principal occupation of figure-painters before the fifties, continues to employ many men, and still forms what is perhaps the most popular element in exhibitions. It ministers to the British delight in narrative and anecdote, in character and dramatic situation in and for themselves, and even historical events are largely treated from a point of view which envolves them. To the great public, the artistic means by which such things alone exist are of no accouut; it does not understand them, or appreciate pictorial beauty for its own sake, while it has never considered what limitation in any art means. But, while the story-picture still flourishes, and too often without any pictorial raison d'etre, the attitude of the artistic public and of artists toward incident, has considerably improved, and the conviction that, in painting, subject should not be used as a mere anecdote, but as a pictorial opportunity, is gradually being grasped by increasing numbers. A far greater inventiveness and a broader and more intelligent intention have entered into subject-painting, and in many cases artists now conceive their own motives, or owe little but a suggestion to literature. This creative, as one may call it, as opposed to the merely illustrative function of painting has also tended, when fully grasped, to increased grip of subject and more artistic treatment, for the idea being the painter's own, and conceived for the purpose of presentation in paint, the result is not only closer in character, but full of the concentration and personal accent of an original conception.

The Scottish Review, Volume 30, William Musham Metcalfe, Ruaraidh Erskine, A. Gardner, 1897.

The elder brother of a James Eckford Lauder, also born at Silvermills, Edinburgh, early developed a strong love for art, and a tendency towards following it as a profession in spite of obstructions thrown in his way at home. When very young, he attempted some designs from the 'Arabian Nights' Entertainments'; and about the same time having made the acquaintance of David Roberts, who was his senior by seven years, and then a house-painter in Edinburgh, his natural inclination was confirmed by the enthusiasm of that artist Subsequent to this, through the influence of Sir Walter Scott, he was enabled to enter the Trustees'Academy, then taught by Andrew Wilson, where he remained for five years, principally drawing from the antique, after which he spent three years in London studying in the British Museum and attending the life-class of a private art-school. He returned to Edinburgh in 1826; four years later he joined the Scottish Academy as full member, from the Royal Institution, and began to assist Sir William Allan in conducting the classes in the Trustees' Academy. Among the other friendships which he contracted with the Edinburgh artists was that of the Rev. John Thomson, whose acquaintance possibly exercised a beneficial influence on his style in regard to breadth of effect and flow of line, and whose daughter he married. In company with his young wife he set off in 1833 for the Continent, remaining away some five years studying at Rome, Florence, Bologna, and Venice, returning by Munich, in the course of which his style was still further matured by the study of the great works of Titian and Giorgione in Italy, and those of Rubens in the Bavarian capital and the Northern collections. On his return to Britain he made London his home for a few years, during which time he created a considerable sensation there by a Crucifixion, a splendid picture, in which the figure of the Saviour on the cross was represented covered with a white cloth. It was shown at one of the minor exhibitions in London, and afterwards also in Edinburgh. In 1844, after which the Crucifixion was painted, his picture of "Claverhouse ordering Morton to be Shot" was piurchased by the London Art Union for £400. This was the best period of his works, the most important of which were the admirable "Trial of Effie Deans," other subjects from Scott's novels, and the large though somewhat weak "Christ teaching Humility," full of fine colour, grace, and dignity. The last work was the first purchase made by the Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland for disposition in the Scottish National Gallery, and was the last great picture painted by the artist.

At the close of 1849 he returned to Edinburgh, and was elected to the office of head-master in the old Academy, of which he had been such an honourable pupil, and in the same year exhibited at the Royal Academy his Bride of Lammermoor, which was purchased by Lord Egerton. His "Christ walking on the Sea" was exhibited at the Scottish Academy in 1850, and, like the former Scriptural subject, has been engraved. Among his other engraved works are "Italian Goatherds," "Ruth," and the "Glee-maiden (the latter by Lumb Stocks), issued by the Association for the years 1843, one of the unsuccessful competitors at the Westminster Hall competition with the two previously mentioned Scriptural subjects, at which his brother was more fortunate; and died on the 22d April 1869, after having suffered during the previous eight years from paralysis, in which time the disease prevented his nerveless hand from wielding the brush, which he had so nobly used in the days of his health, although always represented in the Academy.

The same subject was sold with one of Lloyd's collections in London is 1857 for £204, 15s.; and again in Mr. J. Graham's collection in 1887, for 100 guineas: the latter measured 93 by 57 inches. The National Gallery picture is 11 feet 7 inches by 7 feet 8 inches.

He had a keen perception of the beautiful in colour and form, which, with a graceful and harmonious flow of line, pervades all his works. His labours as an art teacher have been duly recognised by the artists who had the good fortune to benefit by his teaching, among whom were the late Mr. Robert Herdman, Orchardson, Pettie, Peter Graham, Hugh Cameron, and other eminent artists, whose style he has largely influenced. In November of 1870 a monument executed by his pupil John Hutchison, R.S.A., was inaugurated in Warriston Cemetery, consisting of a handsome slab of grey Sicilian marble, with an alto-relievo head in white marble, the cost of which was defrayed by his former pupils.

Art in Scotland: Its Origin and Progress, By Robert Brydall, Master of the St. George's Art School of Glasgow, William Blackwood and Sons, Edinburgh and London, 1889 [MDCCCLXXXIX]

Birth: Jun. 25, 1803
Death: Apr. 21, 1869
Scottish Painter, Teacher - Robert Scott Lauder was born at Silvermills House, Edinburgh. He was the third son of John Lauder of Silvermills and Helen Tait. Robert attended Edinburgh Academy, and subsequently went to London. He returned to Edinburgh about 1826, and was elected one of the original members of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1830. He married Isabella Ramsay Thomson on September 9, 1833, at St.Cuthberts' in Edinburgh. She was the daughter of friend Rev. John Thomson. The couple moved abroad, where Robert studied for some years in Rome, Florence, Bologna, Venice and Munich. The couple then returned to London in 1838, and began their family; a daughter, Isabella, and two sons, John and Robert. Lauder accepted the position of Master of the Trustees' Academy in 1852, becoming one of the most famous art teachers of his time and introducing innovative teaching methods. His career ended when he was paralyzed by a stroke in 1861. He died from a bout of bronchitis.
Burial: Warriston Cemetery and Crematorium, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh, Scotland

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Robert Scott Lauder (1803-1869)