William Brodie RSA
- Born : 1815
- Died : 1881
- Associate Elected : 10/11/1852
- Academician Elected : 10/02/1859
RSA Obituary, transcribed from RSA Annual Report
It has never fallen to the lot of a Council in their Report to record a paragraph such as the preceding, and be called upon to follow it with another regarding the Secretary of import so sadly different. From the commencement of the present year evident signs of Mr. Brodie’s declining strength were discernible, although there was no lack of zeal in the discharge of his duties to the Academy. In July last the state of his health became such that the President and Council considered that a total cessation from his labours as Secretary was imperative; and with his concurrence he was relieved-temporarily it was hoped-from his official duties. This, however, proved unavailing; his malady developed rapidly, and on the 30th October he died, after five years’ assiduous service in the office of Secretary.
By a law in the Charter a General Meeting was convened within two days after the announcement of the vacancy, to fix a day within eight days thereafter, for the purpose of appointing a successor. The eighth day happening to fall upon that of the Annual Statutory Meeting in November, it was resolved to convene a Special Assembly also upon the 9th inst., to precede the Statutory Meeting.
In accordance with the resolution adopted by Council and General Meetings held upon the 1st of November, in testimony of their respect for Mr. Brodie application was made to the family for permission for the Academy to attend his funeral, which having been kindly complied with, a large number of Members and Honorary Members and Students assembled and paid this their last tribute of respect.
Ranking high in the estimation of his professional brethren in Scotland and elsewhere, William Brodie’s loss must be deeply felt by all interested in the noble Art to which his life had been devoted; whilst the Academy, in its corporate capacity, must long deplore the loss of his business ability and judgment, of his genial courtesy, and of his sympathetic interest in all its objects.
William Brodie was born in Banff in 1815. Though not originally intended for the Artistic profession, he early attracted considerable attention by his dexterity in modelling medallion portraits in wax. But influenced no doubt by intercourse with John Philip – then, as to the end of that great Artist’s life, his intimate friend – he ere long abandoned this walk of Art for more ambitious efforts. Having removed to Edinburgh, he became favourably known by his busts in Marble – conspicuously by his bust of Lord Cockburn, which probably laid the foundation of his subsequent success in this department of professional effort.
Proceeding to Rome in prosecution of his studies, he there modelled a Statue of Corinna, afterwards executed in marble, by which he gave unequivocal promise of capacity for Ideal Sculpture – a promise which many of his subsequent works, executed on his return to Edinburgh – such as the Blind Girl, and Tennyson’s Aenone – amply fulfilled. In Monumental Sculpture he executed several well-known Statues. But it was in Bust Portraiture that he excelled, and achieved his widest recognition.
For the production of Posthumous Busts he showed pre¬eminent aptitude; his works in this difficult walk of Art, being numerous and greatly prized.