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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

John Hutchison (1833–1910)

Sculptor. Born in Edinburgh, the son of a builder, he was apprenticed at the age of thirteen to a wood carver in a house on the High Street near the now demolished Netherbow. He later enrolled at the Trustees’ Academy, studying modelling and decoration, followed by classes in the Antique and Life School under Robert Scott Lauder. At the Academy he also participated in the celebrated sketching club associated with the painting students John McWhirter and William (later Sir William) Quiller Orchardson, both of whom were to remain his lifelong friends. In 1852 he carried out a major programme of decorative wood carving in the picture gallery of Hospitalfield House, Arbroath, but on his return to Edinburgh decided firmly to pursue a career in sculpture, making his debut at the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) annual exhibition with an unidentified portrait medallion in 1856. In 1860 he travelled to Rome to continue his studies under Alfred Gatley, forming friendships with John Gibson, Laurence Macdonald and Hiram Powers, whose influence can be seen in numerous Roman subjects, including Marietta, a Roman Girl (1860), now in the National Gallery of Scotland, and A Roman Matron, which was shown at the International Exhibition in London in 1862. The bulk of his output was in subject pieces and portraiture, including a marble bust of Queen Victoria on which he is said to have retained a correction to the chin made by the monarch herself by pressing her thumb on the clay model. Among his public commissions are a bronze statue of the engineer James Carmichael outside the Albert Institute in Dundee (1876), a freestone monument to Robert the Bruce at Lochmaben, Dumfries and Galloway (1879) and a bronze statue of John Knox at the School of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh (1896). He was elected ARSA in 1862 and full RSA five years later, serving as the Academy’s librarian from 1877 and its treasurer from 1885 until his retirement in 1907. His death in 1910 was sudden and unexpected, and was thought to have been brought on by his sadness at the death of his old friend Orchardson earlier in the same year.

Bibliography: D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. xii–xiii; W.T. Johnston, Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; C.B. de Laperriere (ed.), The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibitors 1829–1990: a dictionary of artists and their work in the annual exhibitions, Wiltshire, 1991, (4 vols), vol. 2, pp. 335–39; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, vol. 1, pp. 69, 293–301, 391–94, vol. 2, pp. 35, 138–41, 215, 265, 270–74, 345, 346, 347, 508, 509; Scotsman, 24 May 1910, p. 6 (obit.).

Ray McKenzie 2018