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Art in Scotland
Robert Thorburn Ross


ROBERT THORBURN ROSS, R.S.A.
Born, 1816; died, 1876.

This eminent and popular domestic painter was born in Edinburgh, where at the age of fifteen he was put under the instruction of George Simson, R.S.A., then the leading art-teacher in Edinburgh. After serving for some time as an assistant to Mr Simson, during which he studied at the Trustees' Academy for three years under Sir William Allan, he settled in Glasgow as a portrait-painter, and occasionally visited other towns for the same purpose. In 1842 he paid a visit to Berwick-on-Tweed, where his father was a master- gunner: he settled there for some ten years, and practised painting more than hitherto, his portraits being mostly done in crayon while in Glasgow. From Berwick he sent his first contribution to the exhibitions of the Scottish Academy, the Spinning-Wheel in 1845, and thenceforward was a regular contributor. Among his other works painted during this period were the Dead Robin, Pious Conversation, the Mote in the Eye, and Blowing Hard. On his return to Edinburgh, where he afterwards permanently settled, he was elected an Associate in 1852, after which he painted Hide and Seek (purchased by the late Mr Graham of Skelmorlie, and published in photographic form by the Glasgow Art Union), the Thorn in the Foot, Dame's School (not exhibited, and purchased by the Glasgow Art Union), Spinning Woo', the Broken Pitcher, Country Lassie, &c., the last-mentioned being bought by his friend Sir Daniel Macnee. His subjects were almost exclusively from domestic life, and are characterised by excellent colour and fine feeling, especially in the delineation of children and childish sports and amusements. He was elected full Academician in 1869, and died in Edinburgh. His works are almost unknown south of the Tweed, and he is represented in the Scottish National Gallery by Asleep, and Sunshine, a larger picture, which was bequeathed to the Gallery by the late Mr J. Scott of Edinburgh. His works in water-colour were also highly appreciated, and his daughter Miss Ross still worthily practises that branch of art.


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