The David Michie RSA Bequest Project: An Introduction

Posted on 28 April 2020

Over the past year, and with the support of the artist’s family, the RSA has been working to research, document and open up one of its most important recent studio bequests, from the painter David Michie OBE RSA. This blog post forms the first in a series from our Research Assistant Armita Bagherzadeh designed to provide introduction and insight into the work we do behind the scenes in the RSA collections to preserve and make accessible the special artistic legacies we receive.

Suffolk Road Back Gardens, oil on canvas, 133 x 151cm, about 1993

The youngest son of Anne Redpath RSA and the architect James Michie, David Michie RSA (1928-2015) was born in the south of France before his family returned to Scotland in 1934. He trained at Edinburgh College of Art from 1947 until 1953 when he won a travelling scholarship and travelled to Italy in the company of his fellow ECA Scholarship winner and lifelong friend John Houston (1930-2008).

David lectured at Gray’s School of Art from 1958 until 1962 thereafter joining the teaching staff at Edinburgh College of Art and holding the post of Vice Principal between 1974 and 1977. In 1979 he was the Visiting Professor of Painting at the Belgrade Academy of Arts.

He exhibited at the RSA from 1954 and won the RSA Guthrie Award in 1960.  David was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1964 and a full Academician in 1972.


David Michie in his studio, slide from the Michie bequest and Self Portrait, conte, 56 x 38.4cm, about 1948-53

The David Michie Bequest consists of numerous paintings, drawings, prints, a collection of publications, 130 sketchbooks, photographs and studio objects as well as an extensive archive belonging to both David Michie and his mother, Anne Redpath. These items, which highlight and illuminate the artists’ life and career, were bequeathed to the Collection of the Royal Scottish Academy by David and his family in 2016. David’s family have been closely involved with the bequest and are funding this research project.

The Michie collection is housed in the RSA Collections Department at the Granton Art centre in Edinburgh.  As the Project Research Assistant, I began assessing and listing the bequest materials in June 2019 which was the first step towards what will eventually be full cataloguing, rehousing and preserving this collection with the aim of making this body of research material accessible for many generations to come.

There are so many fascinating aspects to this bequest which shine a light on David’s remarkable life and artistic career and for the next year or so I will be posting regular updates on the RSA blog to share these in detail with you.

Armita Bagherzadeh

Project Research Assistant