Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Macdonald, Lawrence

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MACDONALD, LAWRENCE (1799–1878), sculptor, born at Boneyview, Findo-Gask, Perthshire, 15 Feb. 1799 (baptism register of Findo-Gask parish), was son of Alexander Macdonald, a poor violinist (Irving, Eminent Scotsmen), and Margaret Morison, his wife. He was apprenticed as a mason with Thomas Gibson, who was then building Murray's Royal Asylum, Perth, and about this time he carved the arms of Robert Graeme on the front of Garvock House. Coming to Edinburgh with an introduction to James Gillespie Graham the architect [q. v.], who proved a helpful patron, he worked as an ornamental sculptor, and on 26 Feb. 1822 entered the Trustees' Academy, Edinburgh (minute-book of the board of trustees). Early in the winter of the same year he went to study in Rome, where he executed several busts, among others that of the Duke of Atholl; and in 1823, along with Gibson, Severn, and other artists, founded the British Academy of Arts in Rome, of which he continued a trustee till his death. In about four years he returned to Edinburgh, and there produced busts of Professor John Wilson and George Combe, the phrenologist. In 1829 he sent his bust of John Marshall, M.P., to the Royal Academy, and he was a frequent contributor to the succeeding exhibitions. In the autumn of 1829 he exhibited in the Royal Institution, Edinburgh, his colossal group of ‘Ajax bearing the dead body of Patroclus and combating a Trojan warrior’ (see Scotsman, 28 and 31 Oct. 1829, where the group is engraved in outline) and other works; and he was second to his friend Charles Maclaren, editor of the ‘Scotsman,‘ in his bloodless duel with Dr. James Browne, editor of the ‘Caledonian Mercury,’ fought near Edinburgh on 12 Nov. 1829 (see ib. 11 and 14 Nov.), which arose partly out of an article in the ‘Mercury’ (6 Nov.) on Macdonald's works and the ‘Scotsman's’ criticisms upon them. In the same year he was elected a member of the Scottish Academy, where in 1832 he exhibited several busts, including those of J. Gibson Lochkart and the Earl Erroll; but he seldom contributed here, and resigned his membership in 1858. He appeared in the list of honorary members in 1867. In 1832 he returned to Rome, where he occupied a leading position as a sculptor, chiefly producing portrait busts, aided by his elder brother, John, and his son, Alexander. His bust of Philip Henry, fifth Earl Stanhope, is now at Chevening, Kent, and a copy is in the National Portrait Gallery, London. He also executed busts of Walter Scott (1831), Fanny Kemble, Sir David Baird. and James Gillespie Graham. Among his ideal works are ‘A Girl and a Carrier Pigeon,’ 1835, and ‘Eurydice,’ 1849. His ‘Ulysses recognised by his dog,’ shown in the Paris Exhibition of 1855, was much admired, and became the property of Lord Kilmorey. Macdonald died in Rome, 4 March 1878.

Redgrave's Dict.; Brydall's Art in Scotland; Catalogues of Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, and Nat. Portrait Gallery: Drummond's Perthshire in Bygone Days.]

J. M. G.