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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

David Watson Stevenson (1842–1904)

Sculptor, born in Ratho, Edinburgh, the son of a Banffshire builder. He studied at the Royal Institution School of Art and at the life class of the Royal Scottish Academy, and worked for eight years in the studio of William Brodie. He also studied in Rome, and made regular study trips to Paris throughout his life. He was a prolific portraitist, producing busts and statuettes of many fellow artists, including Amelia Hill (1869), George Clark Stanton (1872), Kenneth MacLeay (1877) and John Steell (1887). His first major statue was the monument to the Liberal MP John Platt in Oldham (1878), which includes four bronze symbolic figures, and was soon followed by a succession of important works in Scotland, such as the monuments to the poet Robert Tannahill in Paisley (1883), Highland Mary in Dunoon (1896), and Robert Burns in Leith (1897–1901). His crowning achievement was the colossal bronze statue of William Wallace on the National Wallace Monument at Abbey Craig, near Stirling (1887), a copy of which was produced for Baltimore, USA; he also produced fifteen marble busts for the National Wallace Monument‘s Hall of Heroes. He was elected ARSA in 1877, full RSA in 1886, and exhibited at the Academy every year without fail from 1859 until just before his death. He had studios in various parts of Edinburgh, but from 1891 was based at the Arts and Crafts Dean Studio on Lynedoch Place.

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, Scotland, 2004; R. MacInnes, The Story of the National Wallace Monument, Edinburgh, n.d., [?2005], pp. 38-41; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Edinburgh (2 vols), Liverpool, 2018, passim; R. McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool, 2002, pp. 2–4; F. Rinder (comp.), The Royal Scottish Academy 1826–1916: a complete list of the exhibited works …, Bath, 1975; The Scotsman, 19 March 1904, p. 8 (obit.); P. Usherwood et al, Public Sculpture of North-East England, Liverpool, 2000, pp. 18–19, 296–97.

Ray McKenzie 2018