Elected ARSA: 21 March 1923

Elected RSA: 8 February 1933

By the death of E. S. Lumsden, R.S.A., the Academy has suffered the loss of one of its most distinguished members and one who has given extensive and unselfish service to the Academy for many years. At his death he was engaged in cataloguing and arranging the Academy Library, a task for which no one was better fitted than he. 


Ernest Stephen Lumsden, of English birth and Scottish parentage, was born in 1883. He received his early training in Art at the College of Reading under Morley Fletcher, and in Paris; went to Spain to study Velasquez; became interested in etching, the processes of which he learned with the aid only of a textbook.


Returning to this country he began that career as an etcher which has made his work so widely known and established a firmly-founded reputation. In his pursuit of etching he travelled widely : to Paris, where he made a set of prints—‘ Paris in Construction ”and later, in the course of no less than five journeys, to India, Burma, Tibet. He came to Edinburgh in 1908 on the opening of the College of Art, where he taught etching and painting for three years.


He was made an Associate of the Painter etchers in 1908 and a full member in 1915; an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academyin 1923, a full memberin 1933, and was occupied mostly at this period of his life with portrait painting while the etchings he had previously done were making their way to notice and into the hands of collectors. 


In 1925 he published the Art of Etching, which is the standard work on the subject. A man of the highest sincerity and integrity he was most lovable to those who knew him well. He was always ready to help and encourage young artists, many of whom will gratefully remember the real and kindly interest he showed in their work.


His mind and sympathies could extend to the most “modern” adventures. His own work—academic, perhaps, in the best sense (having the qualities of dignified design and fine drawing)—was no hindrance to his appreciation of aims more experimental than his own. This generosity of mind was exemplified also in the large and valuable collection of prints and drawings done by very different artists which he collected during his Life. 


Examples of his work are to be seen in the Contemporary Art Society’s Collection, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Gallery of Canada, the Library of Congress, and in the public Collections of Aberdeen, Birkenhead, Belfast, Cork, Glasgow, Dunedin, Johannesburg, and Toronto. He is survived by a daughter. His wife, Mabel Royds, an artist of considerable distinction, predeceased him.

Transcribed from the 1943 RSA Annual Report

Further Images

Ernest Stephen Lumsden RSA (1883-1948), Portrait of Professor A P Lawrie DSc, Professor of Chemistry to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts

Oil on canvas, 1930, 89.1 x 69.5cm

RSA Diploma Collection (Deposited, 1933) 2000.01