Overview

Elected ARSA: 13 November 1839 

Elected RSA: 10 February 1848

Edmund Thornton Crawford, one of the most distinguished of Scottish landscape-painters, died at his residence at Lasswade, on 27th September, at the age of seventy-nine.

 

At a Meeting of Council held shortly after his death the following Minute was unanimously adopted, and ordered to be recorded on the books of the Academy :— «Before proceeding to the ordinary business for which this Meeting has been called, the Council desire to record their sense of the great loss the Academy has recently sustained by the death of its very venerable and esteemed member, Edmund Thornton Crawford. “Mr. Crawford early in life gained for himself a high position in Landscape and Marine painting, and maintained it to the last of his long and honourable career. Although not one of the founders of the Academy,! he was one of its earliest elected members, and his works very soon came to be marked features in its Annual Exhibitions. The characteristics of his art are those of what may be termed the Old School of Scottish Landscape Painting; a contemporary of Thomson of Duddingston, Ewbank, and William Simson, he survived them for many years, the only representative of their method of study and feeling for Nature. It was not so realistic in detail as the Modern School, but was perhaps wider in its grasp, and strove to express its impression of Nature rather than imitate her with realistic truth.”

 

In testimony of the respect in which he was held by the Academy, the President and a large number of Members and Honorary Members attended his funeral. E. T. Crawford was born at Cowden, near Dalkeith. His father was a land-surveyor, who owned and resided at Cameron Bank. Crawford when a boy was apprenticed to a house-painter in Edinburgh, but having evinced a decided taste and ability for Art, his engagement was cancelled, and he entered the Trustees’ Academy under Wilson, where he had for fellow-students D. O. Hill, R. 8. Lauder, and others who also attained in after-life no little eminence.

 

William Simson, who was one of the older students, became his most intimate friend and acknowledged master, and, from their frequent sketching expeditions and painting together, Crawford imbibed much of the best qualities of that able artist. His early efforts in Art were exhibited in the Royal Institution, and his first contributions to the Annual Exhibition of the Academy appeared in 1831, two of them being taken from Lowland scenery in Scotland, and the third being the portrait of a lady.

 

Two years there- after—having visited Holland during that interval, and to which country he afterwards occasionally returned—he commenced to exhibit a long series of marine subjects and landscapes, many of them of importance, but it was not till 1848 that he produced his first great picture, and this he rapidly followed up with other works of high quality, which established his reputation as one of the greatest masters in landscape-painting in Scotland.

 

For a few years previous to this epoch in his Art career he practised very successfully as a teacher of drawing. In 1858 he left Edinburgh, and took up his residence at Lasswade, continuing, however, to contribute regularly to the Annual Exhibition of the Academy till his seventy-first year.

 

In his prime he was a keen sportsman with rod and gun. For many years he suffered much, yet patiently, from an ailment to which he ultimately succumbed, and which had forced him latterly to a life of the closest retirement. He was elected an Associate of the Academy in 1839 and an Academician in 1848.

Transcribed from the 1885 RSA Annual Report

 

Further Images

Edmund Thornton Crawford RSA (1806-85) Coast scene - a storm [Coast Scene - North Berwick]

Oil on canvas, around 1860, 44 x 66.1 cm

RSA Diploma Collection (Deposited, 1860) 1992.074