Manson, George (DNB00)

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MANSON, GEORGE (1850–1876), Scottish artist, son of Magnus Manson, an Edinburgh merchant, was born at Edinburgh on 3 Dec. 1860. After he had left school he spent some months in the workshop of a punch-cutter, where he was engaged in cutting dies for printers' types. In May 1866 he entered the wood-engraving department of Messrs. W. & R. Chambers, publishers, and during an apprenticeship of five years with that firm produced a number of woodcuts, including some tailpieces for 'Chambers's Miscellany,' He found time to attend the School of Art, to copy in the Scottish National Gallery, and to contribute to a Sketching Club; and he spent his summer holiday of 1870 in London, making studies in the national collections. His indentures haying been cancelled by his request in August 1871, he devoted himself more assiduously to the work of the Edinburgh School of Art, and in the following year he gained a free studentship and a 'silver medal for a water-colour study. In 1873 he travelled in France, Belgium, and Holland, visiting Josef Israels at the Hague. Shortly after his return his health failed, and he was compelled, early in 1874, to go south to Sark, where he made some of his best sketches. He returned to Scotland for a short time, and in January 1875 went to Paris, to take lessons in etching in the studio of M. Cadart. He was back in England in April, and he settled for a few months at Shirley, near Croydon. In September he sought change at Lympstone in Devonshire, where he died on 27 Feb. 1876. He is buried in the neighbouring churchyard of Gulliford. He has left a small water-colour portrait of himself when an apprentice, and another executed in 1874, and hung in 1876 in the exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy. A good photograph (1873) is reproduced in Mr. Gray's 'Memoir.' In his engraving Manson was an acknowledged disciple of Bewick, copying his simple and direct line effects, and preferring to work 'from the solid black into the white, instead of from the white into grey by means of a multiplicity of lines.' His paintings, which deal with homely and simple subjects, are realistic transcripts from nature, and are chiefly notable for their fine schemes of colour. Many of his works are reproduced in the 'Memoir.'

[George Manson and his Works, Edinb. 1880, containing a biographical preface by J. M. Gray, founded on material given by the artist's friends; information kindly supplied by J. R. Pairman, esq., and W. D. McKay, R.S.A.; Hamerton's Graphic Arts, pp. 311-12; Scotsman, 1 March 1876.]

G. G. S.