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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Thomas Stuart Burnett (1853–1888)

Sculptor. Born in Edinburgh (?), the son of a lithographer, he studied with William Brodie, before attending classes at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) Life School, where his figure of Antinous won a gold medal in the national competitions. A prolific portraitist, he was particularly admired for his busts of children (see, e.g., Head of an Infant, 1885, Glasgow Museums Resource Centre), but he also produced a number of major commemorative works, including a sandstone statue of Queen Victoria on Percy’s Buildings, Dumfries (n.d), and the bronze Monument to General Gordon in Aberdeen, erected after his death. His best known work is the bronze statue of Alexander Selkirk, the prototype of Robinson Crusoe, in Lower Largo, Fife (1885). He was elected ARSA in 1883, and exhibited regularly at the RSA from 1870 until his early death at the age of thirty-five.

Bibliography: W.T. Johnston, Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; P.J.M. McEwan, The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 370–71, vol. 2, pp. 264, 509, 520; Scotsman, 5 March 1888, p. 6 (obit.).

Ray McKenzie 2018