Lauder, Robert Scott (DNB00)

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Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 32
Lauder, Robert Scott

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LAUDER, ROBERT SCOTT (1803–1869), subject painter, brother of James Eckford Lauder [q. v.], was born at Silvermills, Edinburgh, 25 June 1803, 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 1829–30, 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 (information received from his daughter). 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. He died in Edinburgh, 21 April 1869.

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 Cat. of Nat. Gallery of Scotl.; Art Journal, ii. 12; information received from his daughter.]