Brodie, William (1815-1881) (DNB00)

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BRODIE, WILLIAM (1815–1881), sculptor, eldest son of John Brodie, a shipmaster of Banff, was born at that place on 22 Jan. 1815. About 1821 the Brodie family removed to Aberdeen, where William was apprenticed to a plumber. He devoted his evenings, however, to scientific studies at the Mechanics' Institution, and developed a singular dexterity in making instruments for his own experiments. He amused himself in casting leaden figures of notable personages. He also seems to have painted in oil, and after his marriage in 1841 is said to have produced a considerable number of portraits. His peculiar talent for modelling medallion likenesses on a small scale attracted much attention, and especially that of Sheriff Watson and Mr. John Hill Burton, by the latter of whom he was encouraged to migrate to Edinburgh in 1847. There he studied for four years in the Trustees' School of Design; essayed modelling on a larger scale, and executed a bust of Lord Jeffrey, one of his earliest patrons. About this time Brodie spent some months at Rome, where he modelled a figure of Corinna, the lyric muse, exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, of which he was elected an associate in 1857, a full member in 1859, and secretary in 1876. He is believed to have executed more portrait busts than any other artist. His ideal works included the 'Blind Girl,' 'Hecamede,' 'Rebecca,' 'Ruth,' 'The Maid of Lorn,' 'Amy Robsart,' 'Sunshine,' 'Storm,' and 'Memory.' Brodie executed four busts of the queen, one of which is in Balmoral Castle, the colossal statue of the prince consort at Perth, and one of the representative groups in bronze for the Scottish memorial to the prince in Edinburgh. Amongst other works are the bronze statue of Dr. Graham, master of the mint at Glasgow, and of Sir James Young Simpson at Edinburgh, and the marble statue of Sir David Brewster in the quadrangle of the university building, Edinburgh, and of Lord Cockburn in the Parliament House of the same city. He executed portrait busts of most of the celebrities of his day. Not long before his death Brodie received a commission for a statue of the Hon. George Brown, a prominent Canadian politician, for the city of Toronto. After two years of decline Brodie died on 30 Oct. 1881 at Douglas Lodge in Edinburgh.

[Aberdeen Journal, 31 Oct. and 1 and 7 Nov. 1881; Scotsman and Edinburgh Courant, 31 Oct. and 5 Nov. 1881; Times, 1 Nov. 1881; Athenæum, 5 Nov. 1881; Art Journal, December 1881; Irving's Book of Scotsmen, 1881.]

A. H. G.