Sculptor, painter of animal subjects, graphic artist and humourist. Following his elder brother, David Watson Stevenson, he studied at the Royal Institution School of Art, Edinburgh, and at the life class of the Royal Scottish Academy, where he was a contemporary of the sculptors William Birnie Rhind and Thomas Stuart Burnett. As a professional sculptor he made a slightly more precocious start, winning the competition for the Monument to Robert Burns in Kilmarnock at the age of twenty-eight, and going on to produce three more statues of Burns for the USA: in Denver (1904), Chicago (1906) and Milwaukee (1909). Like his brother, however, he achieved his greatest triumph with a statue of William Wallace, erecting his colossal monument to the Scottish patriot in Aberdeen in 1888. In addition to his commissioned and exhibited work, he was a noted raconteur and observer of contemporary life, publishing a book of sketches of the Edinburgh International Exhibition of 1886, and modelling a series of semi-caricatured figurines of Edinburgh professors (whereabouts unknown). He also published several books of comic fiction, including Wee Johnnie Paterson and Other Stories (1893), and Puddin’. An Edinburgh Story (1894). Elected RSA in 1896, he exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy shows more or less annually from the age of eighteen.
Sources: Johnston, W.T., Dictionary of Scottish Artists (c.2000), Scottish National Library, ref CD-ROM.585; The Scotsman, 7 May 1919, p. 6.
Ray McKenzie 2018
Charles Martin Hardie, William Grant Stevenson, 1893, oil on canvas, National Galleries of Scotland
(photo: Creative Commons CC BY-NC)