Overview

Elected ARSA: 30 March 1892 

Elected RSA: 2 December 1908 

Alexander Kellock Brown was born in Edinburgh in 1849, but as, for nearly seventy years, he had been resident in Glasgow or its neighbourhood, his name is indelibly associated with that city and the various Art Institutions which have come into being or developed there during the last half century.

 

He had little systematic training; some elementary instruction at the old Glasgow School of Art—the western analogue of our Trustees’ Academy—supplemented by a short course of study at Heatherley’s, London, sufficed for his pro- fessional equipment. Whilst still in his teens he was engaged as designer in a calico printing establishment, and, whilst still so engaged, he contributed from time to time at the earlier exhibitions of the Royal Institute.

 

Mr. Brown’s association with the Academy dates from 1871, when he was represented at the Exhibition by two works, and since 1873 he has contributed strongly both to the oil and water-colour departments of the Annual Exhibitions. With the exception of the “Temple of Kom-Omba, Egypt” in 1879, the result of a voyage to the East with his friend, James Docherty, A.R.S.A., Mr. Brown has found his subjects within the four seas of Britain, and mostly in Scotland.

 

These were widely different in kind, from his impressive renderings of winter twilight to themes embodying nature in its gayest and gentlest moods. Latterly he worked chiefly in watercolour, a medium he handled with great felicity and skill of treatment. Mr. A. K,. Brown was elected Associate in 1892, and Academician in 1908.

 

Before the latter date he had made for himself a unique position in the West, and all Glasgow’s Art Institutions had been deeply indebted to him, both for the part he took in the carrying on of their affairs, and, in the case of the older movements, for his accurate knowledge of their origin and development.

 

The result of those researches he afterwards embodied in a booklet published in 1913, under the title of The Early Exhibitions of the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts. In this connection, with the considerable membership now resident in the West, Mr. Brown’s services to the Academy have been invaluable, and have always been fully placed at the disposal of the President and Council.

 

At the numerous Assemblies, Meetings of Council (when in office), and of special Committees on which he acted. he was a regular attender—often it must have been at great personal inconvenience, and his counsel always carried weight with his brother members.

 

Mr. Brown was of a gentle and contemplative rather than of a demonstrative disposition, and it was in recognition of his kindly personal qualities, as well as of his services to Art, that, some years ago, he was made the recipient of a handsome testimonial, at the hands of his numerous friends, lay and professional.

 

Mr, Brown, as has been indicated, had served on the governing bodies of all the leading Art Institutions in the West: but in none was he more deeply interested than in the Scottish Artists’ Benevolent Association, in the founding and building up of which he had done yeoman service. For some years he had been one of its two Hon. Secretaries, and on Sir James Guthrie’s resigning the Presidentship in 1920, he was elected to fill the vacancy, a position he held till the date of his death.

 

For a year or two past Mr. Brown had been in indifferent health, and feeling no longer equal to the duties of active Membership, at his request, his name was transferred to the list of Honorary Retired Academicians on 5th January 1922. Mr. Brown had gone to Lamlash, Arran, for a short holiday about the beginning of May, and died suddenly there on the 9th of that month. 

Transcribed from the 1922 RSA Annual Report

Further Images

Alexander Kellock Brown RSA (1849-1922), A Grey Day

Oil on canvas, around 1907, 86.9 x 113.2 cm

RSA Diploma Collection (Deposited, 1908) 1994.153