Robert Brydall (Scottish, 1839-1907)

The First Crusader

IMG_4452 WEB

Robert Brydall (Scottish, 1839-1907), The First Crusader, oil on canvas, signed ‘R. BRYDALL’ on lower right, 36″ x 48″

Robert Brydall was a nineteenth century Glasgow-born painter and art historian. Although he spent most of his career in Scotland, he made frequent trips to Italy, as did many of his contemporaries. Brydall was both a student and teacher at Glasgow School of Art, and his students included David Murray, John Lavery, James Paterson, and E. A. Walton. In 1889 he published “Art in Scotland: its Origin and Progress” – the first major text on the subject. The London Quarterly Review characterized Brydall’s book as “one of the best and most interesting histories of art ever written.” [The London Quarterly Review, Volume 74, page 185, edited by William Lonsdale Watkinson, William Theophilus Davison]

Brydall served as a staff member at the Glasgow School of Art from 1863-1881; during this time he held the following positions: Pupil teacher, Glasgow Government School of Art – 1863; 3rd Master, Glasgow Government School of Art – 1863-1877; and 2nd Master, Glasgow Government School of Art – 1877-1881.

In 1881, Brydall left the Glasgow School of Art to set up a new private school called St George’s Art School, also in Glasgow. It is unclear when the School ceased operating, but it is believed that he was still running it in 1896.

Brydall was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Glasgow Institute (1862-1907), and the Royal Scottish Academy (1862-1887); in addition, he exhibited in London at the Royal Academy (1906) and the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolor. His subjects included historical scenes and landscapes. He also showed a number of fairy subjects, including The Elf Dance (RGI, 1871) and Fairy Treasure, (RSA, 1874), and works inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Interesting note: Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections recently acquired a sketchbook by Robert Brydall. The sketchbook is dated 1873, and contains landscape sketches completed during travels around Scotland.