Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Macbeth, Norman

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MACBETH, NORMAN (1821–1888), portrait-painter, was born in 1821 at Greenock, where his father, James Macbeth, was an official of the excise. He served a seven years' apprenticeship as an engraver in Glasgow, and then proceeded to London, where he studied in the schools of the Royal Academy, and copied in the National Gallery, passing afterwards to Paris, where he worked in the Louvre and under a master. In 1845 he established himself as a portrait-painter in Greenock, removing to Glasgow in 1848, and in 1856 we find him again practising in Greenock. Since 1845 he had been a regular contributor to the exhibitions of the Royal Scottish Academy, and in 1861 he came to Edinburgh, where he gained much employment as a portrait-painter, and was elected A.R.S.A. in 1870, and R.S.A. in 1880. His works, which include the portrait of Sir John Steell, R.S.A., in the possession of the Royal Scottish Academy, and that of the Rev. Dr. Lindsay Alexander, in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, though too often poor in colour and mechanical in handling, have usually the merit of being unmistakable likenesses. About two years before his death he removed to London, where he represented the Royal Scottish Academy as trustee of the British Institution Scholarship Fund, and he died there on 27 Feb. 1888. His sons, R. W. Macbeth, R.A., James Macbeth, and H. Macbeth Raeburn, are also known as painters.

[Catalogues of Royal Scottish Acad.; Ann. Rep. of Royal Scottish Acad. for 1888, &c.]

J. M. G.