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Robert Anderson ARSA (1842-1885)


Robert Anderson, ARSA RWS (1842-1885)

Robert Anderson was a Scottish painter in oils and watercolours who also forged a career as an engraver. A founder member of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours in 1878, he expressed his affinity with his native country in work that was characterised by its sympathetic engagement with scenes of daily life.

Robert Anderson was born in Leith, probably to a member of the Armed Forces. Though few details are known about his life, he spent most of his career in Scotland, and an affinity with the people and landscapes of his native surroundings is reflected in the subject matter of his paintings. His best known work, painted in the last year of his life (when he is listed as living at 6 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh), demonstrates his patriotic interest and his deeply empathetic view of his country.
Wick’s Black Saturday (1885), which hangs in Wick Town Hall, marks a maritime tragedy. In 1848, 37 lives were lost when a storm struck the north-east coast of Scotland, stranding some 800 fishing boats outside the sheltered waters of the harbour.

Anderson was prolific as both a painter and engraver. He exhibited at the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours from 1880 to 1884, the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts between 1877 and 1879, and became an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1879. He exhibited 45 works at the Royal Scottish Academy, and 18 at the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours, of which he was a founding member in 1878. In 1879, Anderson was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy and, from that date, included that honour as part of his signature.

Though Anderson exhibited mainly in Scotland, he showed a painting,
Curlers: Duddingston Loch, at the Royal Academy of Arts, in 1880, and others at Agnews and the Dowdeswell Galleries, all in London.

His work is represented in the collections of the National Galleries of Scotland (Edinburgh) and Wick Town Hall.


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