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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

William Birnie Rhind (1853–1933)

Sculptor. Born in Edinburgh, the eldest son of John Rhind, he was brought up in what the Scotsman described as an ‘atmosphere in which modelling and carving were prevailing influences’, later emerging from his father’s studio to become the leading architectural sculptor of his generation in Scotland and the country’s most prolific designer of war memorials. In addition to the tuition he received at home and at the Edinburgh School of Arts, he spent five years in the life class of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA), becoming an ARSA in 1893 and a full Academician eight years later. His first major commission was for a memorial to the Black Watch at Aberfeldy, Highland Perthshire (1887), after which followed a stream of commissions for statue groups commemorating the wars in South Africa, the leading examples of which are at Alloa, Clackmannanshire (1902–04); Glasgow (Highland Light Infantry, 1906); and Edinburgh (Royal Scots Greys, 1903–06; King’s Own Scottish Borderers, c.1905–06; and Black Watch, c.1906–10). The conclusion of the First World War brought a renewed wave of commissions from towns such as Prestonpans, East Lothian (1922), Plymouth, Devon (1923) and Buckie, Moray (1924). Among his many major architectural schemes, the most ambitious are in Glasgow, and include multi-figure groups on St George’s in the Fields, St George’s Road (1886), Charing Cross Mansions (1889), and the former Sun Life Building on Renfield Street (1889–94), as well as a number of single figures for the roof of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum (completed 1902). He also contributed to several important schemes on buildings outside Scotland, such as Wakefield County Council Offices (1897), Liverpool Cotton Exchange (1905–06) and Winnipeg Parliament Building, Manitoba, Canada (1916–19). Over his long and productive career, he also produced a number of commemorative monuments, including statues of Thomas and Sir Peter Coats, Paisley (1893–98), and the equestrian Monument to the Marquis of Linlithgow, Melbourne, Australia (1908). He exhibited regularly at the RSA from 1878 to 1934, showing portrait busts and models for many of his public and architectural sculptures.

Bibliography: M. Baker, Manitoba’s Third Legislative Building: symbol in stone: the art and politics of a public building, Winnipeg, pp. 82–85, 110; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1997, pp. 123–24, 215; D.A. Cross, Public Sculpture of Lancashire and Cumbria, Liverpool, 2017, pp. xv, 113; Glasgow Herald, 11 July 1933, p.11 (obit.); W.T. Johnston, Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; C.B. de Laperierre, The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibitors 1829–1990 … (4 vols), Wiltshire, 1991, vol. 4; P.J.M. McEwan, The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture, Ballater, Aberdeenshire, 2004; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, passim; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 227–28, 261, 321–24, 344, 349–51, 363–64, 382–83; Mapping Sculpture; E. Morris and E. Roberts, Public Sculpture of Cheshire and Merseyside, Liverpool, 2012, pp. 199–200, 218, 221–22; Scotsman, 11 July 1933, p. 8 (obit.); M.H. Spielmann, British Sculpture and Sculptors of To-day, London, Paris, New York and Melbourne, 1901, pp. 127–29; P. Usherwood et al, Public Sculpture of North-East England, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 143–44; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, p. 194.

Ray McKenzie 2018