Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gibson, Patrick

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GIBSON, PATRICK (1782?–1829), landscape-painter and writer on art, was a native of Edinburgh. The date of his birth is usually given as December 1782, but the parochial register of Dollar states that he died in 1829, ‘aged fifty-four years.’ He received a classical education in the high school, Edinburgh, and in a private academy, and studied art under Alexander Nasmyth and in the Trustees' Academy, then taught by John Graham. From 1805 he resided in Lambeth, exhibiting in the Royal Academy in 1805, 1806, and 1807, and in the British Institution in 1811. In 1808 he was in Edinburgh, where he joined the Society of Associated Artists, to whose exhibitions he contributed from that date till 1816, and he was represented in the modern exhibitions of the Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland in 1821 and 1822. In the earlier exhibition catalogues his name occasionally appears as ‘Peter’ Gibson. In June 1818 he married Isabella, daughter of William Scott, a well-known teacher of elocution; and his wife is stated to have been an accomplished musician and the composer of the tune entitled ‘Comfort’ (information from Mr. James Christie). In 1826 he became a foundation member of the Scottish Academy, to whose exhibitions he contributed (1827–9) landscape and architectural subjects, both Scottish and foreign. In 1824 he had been appointed professor of painting in Dollar Academy, and he died there on 23 Aug. 1829 (see Parochial Register of Dollar). In his works in oil, of which there is an example—‘Landscape Composition’—in the National Gallery of Scotland, Gibson founded his style upon Claude and Poussin. His water-colours are delicate and careful, executed with washes of rather subdued and low-toned pigments. An interesting volume of them is in the library of the Board of Manufactures, Edinburgh, and a portrait of himself by his own hand in this medium is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He was an accomplished etcher, and published in 1818 a quarto series of six ‘Etchings of Select Views in Edinburgh, with Letterpress Descriptions.’ He was excellently qualified as a writer on art by his general culture, and his acquaintance, both practical and theoretical, with the subject. He contributed a comprehensive article on ‘Design’ to the ‘Encyclopædia Edinensis;’ and articles on ‘Drawing,’ ‘Engraving,’ and ‘Miniature-painting’ to Dr. Brewster's ‘Edinburgh Encyclopædia.’ His ‘View of the Progress and Present State of the Arts of Design in Britain,’ in the ‘Edinburgh Annual Register’ for 1816, is especially valuable for its notices of minor Scottish painters. In Anderson's ‘Scottish Nation’ he is stated to have contributed an article on the ‘Progress of the Fine Arts in Scotland’ to the ‘New Edinburgh Review;’ but an examination of the five volumes of this publication has failed to disclose the paper. He was author of a curious anonymous jeu d'esprit on the exhibition of the Royal Institution, Edinburgh, 1822; and, under the pseudonym of ‘Roger Roundrobin, Esq.,’ of a ‘Letter to the Managers and Directors’ of the same institution, 1826. A treatise on ‘Perspective,’ written shortly before his death, was printed but not published. He also contributed to the daily press; and Laing (Etchings of Wilkie and Geddes) is inclined to attribute to his pen a notice of Geddes's exhibition in the ‘Edinburgh Evening Courant,’ 15 Dec. 1821. [Authorities quoted above; Catalogues of National Gallery of Scotland, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Royal Academy, British Institution, Associated Artists, Edinburgh, Royal Institution, Edinburgh, and Royal Scottish Academy; A. Graves's Catalogue of Artists; and information from Mr. Graves.]

J. M. G.