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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

William Brodie (1815–1881)

Sculptor. The son of a Banff shipmaster, and brother of the sculptor Alexander Brodie, he worked first as a plumber in Aberdeen, where he also studied at the Mechanics’ Institute. In 1847 he moved to Edinburgh to enrol at the Trustees’ School of Design, then visited Rome in 1853 to study under Laurence Macdonald. Returning to Edinburgh, he established a large practice specialising in portrait busts and statues, many of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Scottish Academy. His daughter, Mary Brodie (fl. 1858–64) was also a sculptor, and was married to the architect and sculptor James Gowans. He was elected ARSA in 1852, full RSA in 1859, and served as the Academy’s secretary from 1876 to 1881. His most important public commissions include statues of Lord Cockburn, 1863, Parliament Hall, Edinburgh; Sir David Brewster, 1870, University of Edinburgh; Thomas Graham, 1871, George Square, Glasgow; and Sir James Young Simpson, 1877, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh. His best loved public sculpture is undoubtedly Greyfriars’ Bobby, 1872, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh.

Bibliography: R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 60–61, 163–65, 272–73, 358–60, 394, 409–13, vol. 2, pp. 33, 35–36, 224–25, 295, 298, 303, 305, 314–16, 365, 452–53, 508, 509; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 139–40, 195, 444, 458, 459; I. Roscoe et al, A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain 1660–1851, New Haven and London, 2009; Scotsman, 31 October 1881, p.4 (obit.).

Ray McKenzie 2018