William Lamb ARSA 1893-1951
Elected ARSA: 18 March 1931
William Lamb, youngest son of a master-mariner, was born 11 Montrose in the year 1893. He was educated in the local schools o! his native town. On leaving school he was apprenticed to a firm o! monumental sculptors which had a long tradition of craftsmanship in carving in stone, granite and marble.
While serving his apprenticeship he attended evening continuation classes in art at Montrose Academy. He was then about 16 years of age. On the outbreak of war in 1914 he volunteered his services and joined the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders and fought in France. He was twice wounded.
On the second occasion, towards the end of the war, his right hand was so badly shattered that he never regained the full use of his fingers. He was discharged and sent to this country, where he spent a period of convalescence in Aberdeen and attended classes in Gray’s School of Art.
In April 1921 he came to Edinburgh and entered the Sculpture and Design Sections of the Edinburgh College of Art and studied there till 1922. Towards the end of 1922 he set out on a visit to the Continent and toured by cycle through France, Belgium and Italy. His longest stay was at Paris, where he studied at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts under Professor Boucher.
In 1924 he returned to Montrose and set up as an independent artist, exhibiting his work at the Royal Scottish Academy, the Royal Academy, and the Paris Salon. In 1925 he won the Guthrie Award of the Royal Scottish Academy with his study (in plaster) entitled “ Rerryden Fisherwife.”
In 1934 he built a larger studio in Market Street, Montrose, where most of his subsequent work was executed. He was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1931. Asa man William Lamb was retiring and reticent and was prevented by constant ill-health from mixing much with his fellows.
To those who knew him well, however, his conversation was vivid, informed, and educated. As an artist he was one of the outstanding Scottish Sculptors of his day. His work is characterised by great competency and know- ledge, a vitality which never flags, and a sureness and swiftness of touch.
His subjects were drawn for the most part from the fisher folk amongst whom he had always lived, and he aimed at imparting to these works a vivid sense of the elements against which they battled. There was, besides, a strong sense of poetry in his work, and in his later output he executed many carvings in wood in which a sense of wind blowing was expressed by the skilful management of drapery and form.
All his work shows the influence of the best examples of traditional French Sculpture. Examples of his work are portraits of Dr. Pittendrigh Macgillivray, R.S.A., David Foggie, R.S.A., Violet Jacob, Rev. T. N. Wright, Hon. David W. Carnegie—bas relief now in Brechin Cathedral. In 1932, portrait heads of the Queen and of The Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret. His bronze “Merchant Seaman” is now in the Royal Scottish Academy. His larger works are “Purpose” (bronze) exhibited R.S.A., 1926; “Torso (the Sluggard)” (bronze), R.S.A., 1928; “Boy with Catapult” (plaster), R.S.A., 1930; “ Paresseux” (plaster), R.S.A., 1930.
From 1937 he produced many life-size studies, “Bill, the Smith” (plaster), R.S.A., 1937, and “A Deep-sea Fisher” (plaster), R.S.A., 1938, being outstanding examples. He produced also many etchings and watercolours. He died, after a brief illness, on 12th January 1951, and is buried in Sleepyhillock Cemetery, Montrose.
RSA Obituary, transcribed from the 1951 RSA Annual Report