Phyllis Mary Bone RSA 1894 -1972
Elected ARSA: 15 March 1939
Elected RSA: 9 February 1944
Miss Phyllis M. Bone, who was born on 15th February 1894, showed at a remarkably early age a determined ambition to make for herself a career in art. In 1907, a year before going to St George’s School for Girls, she entered her name at “The Royal Institution of Art” (now the R.S.A. building), and again in 1910, when she was sixteen, re-registered in the new College of Art where she became a student in 1912.
She gained a Diploma in Sculpture in 1918 and next moved to Paris for a time, studying her chosen subject under the animal sculptor Navallier. In those days the young sculptor had to be entirely self-reliant: Phyllis soon gave evidence of this. Back in Edinburgh by November 1919, she was assisting C. d’O. Pilkington Jackson for some time; then direct commissions by Sir Robert Lorimer for the animal sculpture on the Scottish National War Memorial (at that time in progress) enabled her to begin her own career. Thereafter the animals on the Ecology Building, University of Edinburgh, Stowe School Chapel and much else followed, notably those on St Andrew’s House.
She also maintained a succession of animal statuettes in bronze, widely exhibited in Britain and Paris and bought for public and private collections and by the Government for a British Embassy. Her sensitive drawings of animals were in constant demand, several being published in her booklet Deer Talk (1962). She was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1939 and in 1944 received the high distinction of becoming our first
Her absorbing interest was the observation of wild life which she exercised to the full on the estate of Penninghame, where she was always a welcome guest and where she could also enjoy her skill as a salmon-fisher. Her courage and drive were all the more admirable to her intimate friends who knew she bore the burden (particularly heavy for a woman) of knowing that her lameness could easily have been corrected in infancy.
The last twenty-three years were spent actively and happily among her friends in Kirkcudbright. In 1969 she graciously retired to Honorary Rank to make room for a younger sculptor. Before she died on July 12th 1972 she knew that her two bronzes in the R.S.A. Annual Exhibition had been sold, completing what must be for a sculptor a record of almost unbroken annual success for over thirty years.
RSA Obituary, transcribed from 1972 RSA Annual Report