Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Macbeth, Robert Walker

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1531291Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 2 — Macbeth, Robert Walker1912Walter Armstrong

MACBETH, ROBERT WALKER (1848–1910), painter and etcher, born at Glasgow on 30 Sept. 1848, was second son of Norman Macbeth [q. v.], R.S.A. He received his general education partly in Edinburgh, partly at Friedrichsdorf in Germany. Returning home, he studied art in the schools of the Royal Scottish Academy. In 1871 he came to London, where with his friend Edward John Gregory [q. v. Suppl. II] and (Sir) Hubert (von) Herkomer he joined the staff of the newly founded 'Graphic' newspaper and entered the Royal Academy schools. His early practice was chiefly in water-colour, and in 1874 he was elected a member of the Royal Water Colour Society. He was also a constant exhibitor at the Royal Academy, where his work showed something of the influence of Frederick Walker [q. v.]. At the Academy he exhibited, among other oil paintings which attracted attention, 'A Lincolnshire Gang' (1876), 'Potato Harvest in the Fens' (1877), and 'A Fen Flood' (1883). His 'Cast Shoe' was purchased by the Chan trey bequest in 1890 for 630l. It was however as an etcher that Macbeth was most widely known. During the vogue enjoyed by reproductive etching from 1880 onwards, he etched a series of large plates after pictures by Velazquez and Titian, in the Prado Gallery, Madrid. They are remarkable for the vigour and richness with which they suggest the colour and handling of their originals. He also etched the 'Le Chant d'Amour' of Burne-Jones (R.A. 1896).

Macbeth was elected an associate of the Royal Academy in 1883, at the same time as Gregory, and a full academician in 1903, and became an original member of the Society of Painter-Etchers.

During his latter years he lived chiefly at Washford, near Dunster, and hunted with the Exmoor staghounds. His London studio was in Tite Street, Chelsea. He died at Holder's Green on 1 Nov. 1910, and was buried there.

Macbeth married in 1887 Lydia, eldest daughter of General Bates of the Bombay native cavalry. His widow survived him with a daughter, Mrs. Reginald Owen. A portrait in oils was painted by Carlo Pellegrini [q. v.].

Some of his work was shown at the winter exhibition of the Royal Academy in January 1911.

[Men and Women of the Time; Hodgson and Eaton, Royal Academy and its Members, 1905, p. 359; Graves, Royal Academy Exhibitors; The Times, 3, 4, and 8 Nov. 1910; private information.]

W. A.