M'Ian, Robert Ronald (DNB00)

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M'IAN, ROBERT RONALD (1803–1856), painter of historical subjects, born in 1803, was descended from the old M'Ians or Maedonalds of Glencoe, Argyllshire. In his early years he was an actor, a member of the Bath and Bristol company; and on the London stage he attracted attention by his spirited representations of such highland characters as the Dougal Creature in the 'Twa Drovers' of Scott. Meanwhile he had been diligently training himself in art. In 1835 and 1837, while acting in the English Opera House, he exhibited in the Suffolk Street Gallery, and in 1836 he sent a landscape to the Royal Academy. In 1838 he was engaged at Covent Garden, and in 1839 at Drury Lane, but in the latter year he abandoned the stage, and devoted himself entirely to art, entering upon the pursuit with all the energy of a particularly enthusiastic temperament, and deriving the subjects of his figure-pictures from highland history and familiar life. In 1843 he produced 'The Battle of Culloden' and 'A Highland Feud,' and in the same year his 'Highland Cearnach defending a Pass' was exhibited in the Royal Academy. One of his most ambitious efforts, 'An Incident in the Revolutionary War of America' (the Fraser highlanders at Stone-ferry), was exhibited in the Royal Scottish Academy in 1854. The national character of his subjects rendered the engravings from his pictures very popular in the highlands, and his work on 'The Clans of the Scottish Highlands/ illustrated from his original sketches of costumes, arms, &c, published in 1845, was reissued in 1857. He was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1852, and died at Hampstead, 13 Dec. 1856. Milan's wife, Mrs. Fanny M'Ian, was long a teacher in the female school of design, Somerset House, London (see Macready, Reminiscences, vol. ii.) She exhibited works, of a similar character to those of her husband, in the Royal Academy, Royal Scottish Academy, and the British Institution. Her 'Highlander defending his Family at the Massacre of Glencoe' has been engraved.

[Redgrave's Dictionary; Brydall's Art in Scotland; Exhibition Catalogues.]

J. M. G.