Elected RSA: 7 November 1829

It is with much regret that the Council found themselves called on, when they had all but closed their report, to add to it a record of the death of one of the oldest and most esteemed members of the Academy. William Smellie Watson, R.S.A., died on the 6th November 1874, at the age of seventy-seven.


The son of George Watson, the first President of the Royal Scottish Academy, he was himself one of its original members, and throughout a long and honourable career, he ever evinced the warmest interest in its prosperity, and a readiness to do all in his power to promote it. By his counsels, to which his calmness, moderation, and sound judgement gave high value, he was ever ready to aid in the many difficulties which the Academy encountered during its earlier years, and he never came short in his duty of contributing, of his works, to its Annual Exhibitions, the walls of which, for nearly forty-five years, almost without interruption have borne his works in portrait-painting, the branch of art to which he devoted himself, and in which he attained great and well merited success.


Noted for his kindness, gentleness, and courtesy, he was, not only by all members of the Academy, and one of the Profession, but by all who knew him, regarded with respectful affection.


To testify their respect for one who was an honoured member of the Academy, the Council offered that the members of the Academy should as a body attend his funeral, and their offer having been accepted, a large number of the members were present on the occasion.


RSA Obituary by Georges Harvey RSA. Transcribed from the 1874 RSA Annual Report