Louisa Ellen Perman  (1854-1921)

Torrance, James, 1859-1916; Kitty
Figure 1. Torrance, James: Kitty (1521): Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(http://www.artuk.org)

The donor of the above painting was Louisa Ellen Perman. Louisa Perman was born in Eastwood and died in Helensburgh. The painting, donated after her death by her trustees, is the portrait, “Kitty”. The portrait was the work of her husband, James Torrance (1859 – 1916). Her trustees were instructed to donate ‘all pictures and drawings to such of the principal art galleries in any part of the world as they think proper.’ An offer was made to Glasgow Corporation, who accepted the painting of Kitty by James Torrance and six wash drawings for his book illustrations. (1)

Louisa Perman and James Torrance were working artists, their story one of two people who lived and worked within their artistic and social communities and who made a contribution to the artistic life of Scotland. Their work provided them with a living, but some have argued that their contribution to Scottish art was underestimated.

Perman, Louisa Ellen, 1854-1921; Roses
Figure 2: Roses : Perman, Louise Ellen. Glasgow Museums Resource Centre. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.(http://www.artuk.org)

Louisa Perman studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1884 until 1890. She was a noted painter of flowers, often exhibiting with artists such as Jessie Algie, Jessie M. King and Margaret Muir. Caw compares Perman favourably to Stuart Park, a flower painter associated with the Glasgow boys: ‘her pictures evoke much of the feeling which has been indicated as wanting in his’ (2) ( Caw p.450)  She was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Scottish Academy between 1885 and 1920. (3)  In 1908, her painting White Roses was bought by the Luxembourg in Paris. (4)

She was a member of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ Club and was serving as Vice-President of the Club at the time of her death in 1921. (5) The Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture describes Louisa Perman as ‘an underestimated painter whose true qualities are only now beginning to be recognised.’ (6) Although she may have been underestimated in Scotland, her work was widely shown in Europe: Munich, Berlin, Dresden and Prague, to name but a few.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is james-torrance-2.jpg
Figure 3. James Torrance T & R Annan & Sons. National galleries of Scotland. http://www.nationalgalleries.org

Louisa Perman’s husband was James Torrance who was born in Glasgow in 1859 and was an illustrator and artist.

Torrance worked for some time in London as a book illustrator and a portrait painter. He illustrated fairy stories for children, including Sir James Douglas’ ‘Scottish Fairy Tales and Folk Tales‘ Some of the original illustrations for this work are held in the Victoria and Albert in London, the National Gallery of Scotland and others are held in Glasgow Museums’ collections. Torrance also illustrated the works of the American author, Nathaniel Hawthorne (7) and a book of Folk and Fairy Tales by W. B. Yeats.  (8)

Figure 5. “Tammie felt the wind of Nuckleavee’s clutch” Study for an illustration for Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales. James A.S. Torrance. National Galleries of Scotland. http://www.nationalgalleries.org
Figure 4. The Legend of Tyrone: Study for an illustration for Scottish Fairy and Folk Tales. James A.S. Torrance. National Galleries of Scotland. http://www.nationalgalleries.org

James Caw described Torrance thus: ‘although his work is never seen in the exhibitions and his name is practically unknown outside a very limited circle in Glasgow and the west, Mr James Torrance is one of the most vital painters of the younger generation.’ (9)

Torrance and Perman had a long engagement. They did not marry until 1912, by which time she was 58. She had received a legacy which enabled her to buy a house in Helensburgh.  The house was called ‘The Glen’ and both artists had studios there. His was above the coach house, hers was in the garden. In later years, her studio became the meeting place of the Helensburgh and District Art Club, which was formed in 1951. Both artists were involved in staging an art exhibition in Glasgow in 1916, the proceeds of which were to relieve cases of hardship arising from the First World War. Torrance died in 1916.

Helensburgh has had a strong artistic community over many years. Neil Munro described it as ‘Painters too have favoured it; there is no Helensburgh School it is true, but studios hide among its flowers, and an infinite number of pictures have been inspired by the hills, shores and sylvan lanes of its neighbourhood’ (10) The obituaries written in the local newspaper for both artists suggest that they became valued members of the Helensburgh community. (11)

 As well as the bequest to Glasgow museums, Louisa Perman left a brass Buddha and her drawing room piano to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ Club. A note in the minutes of the Club details the Buddha being brought to the Club by one of the members, with the piano to be delivered later. (12)  She also left a sum for the upkeep of her husband’s grave in Faslane Cemetery.

After Torrance’s death, Louisa Perman left a sum of money in memory of her husband, the interest on which was ‘to be awarded to a person, not being a member or associate of any Royal Art Society exhibiting, as his or her own work, a painting in oil or water colour of high artistic merit at the annual exhibition of the Royal Glasgow Fine Art Institute. The judges were to be three professional painters appointed annually, one from the council of the RGI, one from the council of Glasgow Art Club and one from the Council of the Glasgow Lady Artists Club.’ The prize is awarded to the present day.


(1) Glasgow Corporation Minutes 02.09.1921

(2) CAW, James L, 1908: Scottish Painting Past and Present 1620 – 1908: London: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 16 Henrietta Street London

(3) RSA Exhibitors 1826-1990 (Mitchell Library)

(4) CAW, James , 1908.: Scottish Painting Past and Present 1620 – 1908: London: T.C. & E.C. Jack 16  Henrietta Street London

(5) Archive Material on Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ club (Mitchell Library)

(6) McEWAN, Peter J.M. (2004): Dictionary of Scottish Art and Architecture: Ballater, Aberdeenshire: Glengarden Press

(7) www.nationalgalleries.org/es/art-and-artists/79093/james-torrance  accessed 6.10.2021

(8) YEATS W.B. (1893): Irish Folk and Fairy Tales: London: Scott N.D.  

(9)  CAW, James L, (1908): Scottish Painting Past and Present 1620 – 1908: London: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 16 Henrietta Street London. p.430.

(10) MUNRO, Neil (1907): The Clyde, River and Firth: London: Adam and Charles Black

(11) Helensburgh and Gareloch Times: 8 March 1916; 9 March 1921

(12) Archive Material on Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ club (Mitchell Library)

Other sources:

Century of Art Exhibition 1835-1935 (Mitchell Library)

Reference Library, Helensburgh Library

Some Helensburgh Artists and their Studios: Ailsa Tanner

Sir Thomas McCall Anderson 1836-1908

Figure 1. McTaggart,William: SummerBreezes( 2368) Glasgow Museums Resource Centre © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums  Collections.

Donors: Mary Constance Parsons, Helen Muriel Buchanan

The Glasgow Corporation Minutes of 1943-44 detail the donation of the McTaggart painting shown above. The offer of donation was from Mrs Muriel Buchanan of Helensburgh and she offered the painting on behalf of herself and her sister, Mrs Charles Parsons. (1)

Figure 2. Sir Thomas McCall Anderson 1836-1908. https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b1474623.

Sir Thomas McCall Anderson and Lady Margaret McCall Anderson were the parents of the two donors of the painting. Sir Thomas McCall Anderson was the son of Alexander Dunlop Anderson, who was a doctor and President of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons in Glasgow. His mother was Sara McCall. (2)

Sir Thomas came from an eminent Glasgow family with noted clerical and medical ancestors. These included William Dunlop, Principal of Glasgow University 1690 – 1700; Reverend Mr Anderson, Minister of the Ramshorn Church in Glasgow; and John Anderson, Scientist. (3)                                                         

Figure 3. William Dunlop. Principal of Glasgow University 1690-1700. University of Glasgow Archives and Special Collections, University Photographic collection, GB248 UP2/11/1

William Dunlop (1645-1700) was a Covenanter, Minister and  latterly principal of the University of Glasgow from 1690 to 1700. He was the son of an Ayrshire minister. He came from a Covenant supporting family and as a young man he  worked as a tutor for the family of Lord Cochrane, who was also a Covenanter. He went to Carolina, which at that time was known to be a place sympathetic to Protestant Non Conformists and he served there as both a minister and as a member of the militia. He came back to Scotland after the Revolution of 1688 and the accession to the British throne of William III  and was appointed Principal of Glasgow University in 1690. His appointment was believed to be helped by the influence of his brother in law and cousin, the royal adviser William Carstares and to Dunlop’s role in exposing a plot to undermine the authority of the King in Scotland. He invested In the ill-fated Darien Scheme and persuaded Glasgow University to match his considerable donation. (4)

John Anderson (1668-1721), noted in the Dictionary of National Biography as a theologian and controversialist , (5) was ordained minister of Dumbarton and became embroiled in the controversy between the Episcopal and the Presbyterian churches. He was a stout defender of Presbyterianism. In 1720, after much debate within the church about his appointment, he was appointed Minister of the Ramshorn Church in Glasgow. His tenure was short. He died in 1721 at the age of 53. He is buried in the Ramshorn Churchyard. His grandson, Dr John Anderson erected a tombstone in his memory. (6)

Figure 4. John Anderson: Strathclyde University Archives. Image courtesy of the University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections (reference:OP/4/1/6)

Dr John Anderson (1726 – 1796) was the founder of Andersonian College, Glasgow and a noted contributor to the advancement of science throughout his life. He graduated from Glasgow University in 1745. He enlisted as a volunteer officer in the Jacobite rebellion of 1745-1746. In 1755 he was appointed Professor of Oriental Languages at Glasgow University. Known as ‘Jolly Jack Phosphorus’ to his students, Anderson was less popular with some of his colleagues, becoming involved in quarrels and even legal disputes with them. He developed an Experimental Philosophy evening class which was advertised in local papers and which was available to the working classes. In 1786 he published a book , The Institutes of Physics  to help his students. It ran to five editions in ten years. Anderson’s will showed plans for the foundation of Anderson University, which stipulated that women should be allowed to attend lectures. Andersonian College is now Strathclyde University (7)

Sir Thomas McCall Anderson became a noted physician who held the chair of Medicine in Glasgow University and who was also an Honorary Physician to the King in Scotland.

Sir Thomas began his medical studies at Glasgow University in 1852 and went on to study in Europe – in Paris, Wurzburg, Berlin, Vienna and Dublin. In 1861, he founded the Glasgow Skin Dispensary with Andrew Buchanan. In 1865 he became the Professor of Practice of Medicine at Anderson’s College. In 1874 Thomas McCall Anderson was appointed Chair of Clinical Medicine at Glasgow University. He held this post until 1900, in conjunction with the post of Physician to the Western Infirmary. In 1900 he became Chair of Practice of Medicine at Glasgow University. Sir Thomas maintained family tradition through his medical work, but also through his lifelong membership of the Church of Scotland. He was an elder in Park Church, Glasgow and also had interests in his life outside of work, being a keen cyclist and golfer. He died suddenly on 25 January 1908 in the St Enoch Hotel Glasgow after making a speech at a dinner there. He is buried in the Necropolis.  The only son and the youngest child of the family, also named Thomas McCall Anderson, went to America in 1908 to study medicine at the University of Maryland Medical School. He became physician to the Actors’ Fund of America and the St George Society of New York. He died of a heart attack on 24 March 1939 aged 57. (8)

Sir Thomas and Lady McCall Anderson had six children. The oldest Anderson daughter, Katherine,  followed her father into medicine, becoming matron of a hospital in Newcastle Infirmary, then moving to become Matron of St George’s Hospital in London. She served with the Red Cross during the South African War for which she was awarded the Royal Red Cross. She returned to military nursing during the first World War, serving as matron in several Military hospitals.(9)

The donors of the painting were the two youngest daughters of the family, Mary Constance, born in 1873 and Helen Muriel, born in 1879. Both women were married and lived in Scotland, Muriel Buchanan in Helensburgh and Mary Parsons in Glasgow.

The object file for the painting identifies the two children in the painting as being the daughters of Sir Thomas McCall Anderson. The painting was completed in 1881. Looking at the children in the painting and at the ages of the two youngest Anderson daughters, it seems likely that the two donors are the two children in the painting. Helen Muriel would have been aged two and Mary Constance would have been aged seven at the time the painting was completed. The older sisters at this time would have been aged eleven, thirteen and fifteen and do not seem to match the ages of the children in the picture. If the two younger sisters are the subject of the painting, this would explain why it was in their possession and was theirs to dispose of as they wished. (10)  Lachlan Goudie’s History of Scottish Art acknowledges that these paintings of children were McTaggart’s bread and butter and enabled the artist to spend his summers in Kintyre, working on the seascapes for which he would become famous. (11)

There is little further available information about the donors. Mary Constance was born in Largs in 1873. In 1900 she married Charles Parsons, a stockbroker. Helen Muriel born in Glasgow in 1879 married Andrew Buchanan, a chartered accountant in 1915. Muriel Buchanan died in Helensburgh in 1950. Mary Constance Parsons died in Glasgow in 1963. (12)

1.Glasgow Corporation Minutes. November 1943 – April 1944 p.815

2. http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/image/id?=UGSPOO893

3. The Baillie July 31st 1907, Men you Know no.1815

4. http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography

5. COOPER, James, 1912, Dictionary of National Biography : London: Smith,       Elder and Co

6. BLAIKIE,  William Garden, 1901: ANDERSON, John  in:  STEPHEN, Leslie: Dictionary of National Biography :London: Smith Elder and Co

7. Strathclyde University Archives      https/www.strath.ac.uk/archives/iotm/may2010/

8. Glasgow Herald: 27.01.1908; 28.01.1908; 30.01.1908; 03.02.1908

9.  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2020. Introduction

10. Object File, GMRC. Summer Breezes, William McTaggart 2368

11. GOUDIE, Lachlan , 2020: The Story of Scottish Art :London.:Thames and Hudson

12. Scotland’s People, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk

Anderson Thomas McCall, Birth 646/3 1 472: 1906

Anderson, Mary Constance, Birth 602/6 8 1873

Anderson, Helen Muriel Dunlop, Birth 644/9 1879

Other sources consulted: Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909 pp.4

Arthur Edward Anderson (1870-1938)

Gardner, Daniel, 1750-1805; Agnes Pennington
Figure 1. Gardener, Daniel: Agnes Pennington (1820) Glasgow Museums Resource Centre © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.
Figure 2. Stott, Edward A.R.A. : The Sacred Pool  (1820) Glasgow Museums Resource Centre © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Arthur Edward Anderson donated the two paintings shown to Kelvingrove in 1931 (1) Arthur Edward Anderson was born in Wandsworth in 1870. (2) He was the son of Edward John Anderson and Eleanor Anderson. Arthur Edward Anderson died in Chessington Surrey on November 9th 1938. (3) There is no evidence of any marriage. Edward John Anderson was born in Meerut, East India, with census returns  in 1871 showing him as a British Subject, his occupation listed as ‘gentleman’. His father owned a soap factory in Meerut. Edward John Anderson returned to England to live and established himself as a wharfinger. (4)

The family undoubtedly had money. Most of the scant census information available for Arthur E. Anderson, who was the first born son of the family, lists him as a gentleman, although in the 1901 and 1911 census he is listed as a clerk in the East India Merchant Company. (4) His life’s work however, seems to have been philanthropy, fuelled by his passion for art.

His wealth is also highlighted in a brief biography on the website of the British Museum which states that his art purchases were funded by his ‘inherited wealth’, although the same biography states that Anderson was ruined by the ‘great crash’ – presumably the stock market crash of 1929. It is worth noting that although he was ‘ruined’, he still managed to donate two paintings to Kelvingrove in 1931 and donated paintings to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge until 1935 (5)

A.E. Anderson was a philanthropist who definitely gave for public benefit. He wanted others to enjoy art as he did. According to Sir Sydney Cockerell who wrote Anderson’s obituary for the Times, Anderson was a man of exceptional taste who bought art works because they were beautiful. Cockerell acknowledges that he took advice from gallery directors about what he should buy. (6) Having bought these works, Anderson then donated them to Galleries and Museums around Britain.

These galleries included the Fitzwilliam Museum In Cambridge (of which Sir Sydney Cockerell was the director) and the Whitworth Institute in Manchester. Between 1924 and 1935 Anderson donated twenty six items to the Fitzwilliam Museum, including watercolours, drawings and sculpture. Between 1916 and 1927 Anderson donated 17 drawings to the British Museum. These included drawings by Brandoin, Daumier, Raemaekers and Clara Klinghoffer, among others. (7)

 After his death, obituary notices were featured not only in the Times, but also in local papers in places such as Gloucester, Hull, Derby, Belfast and in Angus in Scotland, perhaps an indication of the scope of Mr Anderson’s generosity (8)

Although frequently invited to do so, Anderson seldom visited any of the museums and galleries to which he donated art works. Even when the Whitworth Institute held an exhibition of works donated by him he could not be persuaded to attend the opening. He has been quoted as saying ” I do it because I enjoy it and I don’t like being thanked.” 

Apparently he did once visit Cambridge because he had at one time been destined to attend Clare College. He is also known to have attended a gathering of distinguished guests invited by the government of the day to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of the National Gallery in 1924. Largely however, Anderson was not a man who sought recognition. In some cases, paintings would arrive at galleries having come directly from the dealer where Anderson bought them with no information other than the name of the donor. 

Cockerell stated of Anderson that he got as much pleasure out of finding homes for his art works as did the collector who hung his treasures on his own walls. Cockerell also hoped that “the example of this unique public benefactor will inspire others with similar enthusiasm”

Anderson himself wrote, ” I often wonder what made me take up such an unusual hobby – I simply cannot resist buying a beautiful work of art when I see it and, as there is no room in my tiny cottage, there is nothing like presenting them to the great public museums, where they will have a safe refuge for many years to come. I should hate a sale for distribution far and wide after they have been collected together with such loving care.” (9)

Arthur Edward Anderson’s story is a small but significant one. He has no great galleries named after him and most of the works he donated rest in the stores of the Museums to which he was so generous. However, his motives for giving are clear and his desire to share his love of art with others stands in tribute to his memory. Donors such as Arthur Edward Anderson form an important part of much of our cultural life. Without them our galleries and museums would be lesser places.


(1) Glasgow Corporation Minutes 1931

(2) ancestry.co.uk :1881 census accessed 07/04/2021

(3) The Times, November 11th 1938

(4) ancestry.co.uk: 1901 census, 1911 census accessed 07/04/2021 

(5) Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge : http://www.fitz museum.cam.ac.uk

(6) The Times, November 26th 1938: p.17, par2

(7) http://www.british museum.org.uk/ research/ collection online accessed 12/04/21

(8) www-British newspaper archive-co-uk.nls.idm.oclc.org  accessed 19/04/2021

(9) The Times, November 26, 1938: p.17 par 3

John Sawers (1862-1945)

Pinks Charles Rennie MacKintosh
Figure 1. Pinks: Charles Rennie Mackintosh. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection

In December 1941, John Sawers donated eight watercolours and three drawings to Glasgow’s collections, including a striking watercolour, Pinks, by Charles Rennie MacKintosh. (1)

John Sawers was born in 1862 and died in 1945. He married Mary Watson in 1888 and they had three children, two daughters and a son.(2)

John Sawers, with his father Thomas and his brother George, was part of a well-known fish, game and poultry business within the city of Glasgow and beyond.  The firm had branches in Birmingham and other English cities, as well as eight branches in Glasgow.  There is also a Sawers in Belfast, which exists to this day. The company had a flair for publicity. For example, its fleet of vans were nicknamed after fish –  Miss Haddock, Miss Crab and Miss Plaice.

The firm was the biggest buyer in the Glasgow Fish Market and could apparently “command any exotic sea creature, such as a shark, porpoise, turtle or monkfish as a centrepiece for their displays in Howard Street.” (3) The Oyster Bar within the fish emporium in Howard Street was legendary, and the gentlemen of Glasgow would congregate here to sample the wares and meet their fellow Glaswegians. It was the only licensed fishmongers in Scotland, so the city gentlemen could have their seafood with a glass of ale or porter.

When the Howard Street shop opened in 1890, a large banquet was held and many influential tradesmen and merchants in the city were invited. It was noted that “the banquet was given in almost regal style”. (4)

Figure 3.

Figure 2.

Figure 4,

Figures 2, 3, 4. Tiled Panels from Sawers’ Howard Street shop and the shop interior. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection

Many newspapers carried the story of the wonderful establishment and praised its designer, Mr J Winton Mackie, who was assisted by Mr John Sawer. “There is no more magnificent fish shop in Europe, and the splendours of the suggestive tiles and granite slabs must be inspected in order to be appreciated.” (5) The tiled panels, created for the shop by Doulton of Lambeth, attracted a great deal of attention and fortunately, when the firm folded in 1960 after attracting the attention of corporate raiders, Glasgow Museums rescued the entire tiled scheme and part of the mosaic fascia from the front of the shop.

Sawers also published an annual fish and game calendar and a cookbook ” Our Table Fishes: How to Choose and Cook Them”. (6)

In the early 1900s John Sawers bought a plot of land in Giffnock known as the Hollows. Here he built a house known as Eastwood Hollows. The house was designed by Andrew Balfour and was a fine example of an Art and Crafts House. (7) Balfour was articled to James Boucher and, during his apprenticeship, won a studentship to Glasgow School of Art (GSA). After finishing his apprenticeship Balfour worked with John Burnet. (8) The picture below shows the house and presumably the three children seated are the Sawers children.

Sawer House 1.jpg
Figure 5. Eastwood Hollows Exterior and Garden. https://archive.org/details/academyarchitect19londuoft/page/102

Figure 6. Eastwood Hollows Interior 1. https://archive.org/details/academyarchitect19londuoft/page/105

Figure 7. Eastwood Hollows. https://archive.org/details/academyarchitect19londuoft/page/102


John Sawers made a beautiful garden round his house, with a pond, a pergola and a greenhouse where he grew vines. The house was demolished, in the 1960s allegedly to make way for a road and a roundabout. (9)

Figure 8. Eastwood Hollows Interior 2.  https://archive.org/details/academyarchitect19londuoft/page/105.

John Sawers was more than just a fishmonger. He was clearly an art lover and in his obituary is mentioned as being an artist in his leisure moments. His obituary also states that he was “a pioneer of colour photography”.(10) He liked to surround himself with beautiful art, including his house in Giffnock. Even within his working environment Sawers incorporated art. His art can now be enjoyed by a wider audience thanks to his generous donation to Glasgow Museums.


1.Glasgow Corporation Minutes Nov 1941- May 1942 p.428

2.Scotland’s People: scotlandspeople.gov.uk

3. King, Elspeth (1991) The People’s Pictures, The Story of Tiles in Glasgow, Glasgow: Glasgow Museums

4. Stratten and Stratten (1891) Glasgow and Its Environs, Glasgow: Stratten and     Stratten

5.The Baillie: October 1890 P4

6. Glasgow University Library, Special Collections.

7. Koch, Alexander, ed. (1901). Academy Architecture. Vol.19. London: Academy Architecture. pp 102,. 105.

8. Dictionary of Scottish Architects http://www.scottisharchitects.org

9. Giffnock Library Family History Centre: Memories and Information from the       Mary D. Gardiner Archive, 23 rec 2092, April 2008

10. The Glasgow Herald: 18th April 1945





Thomas Francis Donald

Thomas Francis Donald 1853 – 1932

Knox, John, 1778-1845; The Clyde from Dalnottar Hill

The Clyde from Dalnottar Hill:  John Knox

Donated by T. F. Donald October 1921

Copyright Glasgow Museums Collection

Thomas Francis Donald came from an established Glasgow family. His  great grandfather and his grandfather were among the chief importers of tobacco in the city of Glasgow.(1)

Thomas Francis Donald was a Chartered Accountant and Stockbroker.  His father, Thomas Donald, was the County Clerk of Lanarkshire. His mother was Frances Maxwell.  (2)

“There are few families now in existence in Glasgow who are more connected with the Glasgow of olden days than the Donalds” (3)

Mr Donald worked in 104 West George Street (a building which also housed Leslie Hunter, the artist).  He lived in 14 Huntly Gardens (4) and in later life moved to Dargavel House, Bishopton , the seat of the Maxwell Family. He lived here until his death. Dargavel House is now a B listed building, which became part of the Royal Ordnance Factory and is now owned by BAE Systems. (5)

Thomas Francis Donald achieved great success in his chosen career. He was noted for his thoroughness, and was widely respected. He was a member of the Glasgow Stock Exchange, twice holding the position of chairman. It was noted that he never gave any client thinking of having a “flutter” any too rosy a picture of his prospects. “His honesty was merciless” He was a keen sportsman, a member of the Royal Northern Yacht Club, where he held the position of secretary and treasurer from 1887 until 1896. He was also a member of the Mudhook Yacht Club. He was a golfer, taking up the game in 1864. He would therefore have been in the forefront of the expansion of golf in Scotland which occurred in the second half of the nineteenth century. This expansion was due to two events – the discovery of the gutta percha ball and the expansion of the railways. This made golf  more accessible and led to the formation of golf clubs in Scotland. One of these clubs was Prestwick, created by Old Tom Morris in 1851.(6) In 1920, Thomas Donald became  the Captain of Prestwick golf club.  (7)

Thomas Donald was an active member of Glasgow society and was secretary to the Knot of Bachelors. He was a member of, and treasurer to, the Western Club. (His great great grandfather had been a founding member.) He was chairman of the Western Club from 1924/25 and wrote a brief history of the club to mark the club’s centenary. He occupied the chair at the Club’s centenary celebrations. (8)

He was a member of the Hodge Podge Dining Club, many of whose members came from the Western Club. This club was established in 1750, originally as a discussion group, but members quickly decided to abandon discussion in favour of Whist, which was played between 5 p.m. and supper at 9 p.m. The club exists to the present day, meeting in the Western Club every six months. (9)

The Baillie summed him up thus:

“Mr Donald is a Glasgow citizen of credit and renown…. He comes of excellent stock…. and the traditions of this stock are excellently maintained in his person. Success on the local bourse has left him abundant time and opportunity to cultivate the higher graces of life… His offices speak volumes for his savoir faire, and for the high esteem in which he is held by the circles of which he is a member. Mr Donald’s reading is extensive and peculiar. It ranges from volumes on the abstruser sciences down to the latest cookery book. Consequently, among his intimates his conversation is uncommonly bright and interesting. Even his censure is accepted with as good a grace as is the approval of another.” (10)

Thomas Francis Donald

Thomas Francis Donald

The Baillie July 8th 1886

His obituary in the Glasgow Herald summed up Thomas Donald : ” He warmed, if ever a man did, both hands before the fire of life….He had a good knowledge of literature and was well versed in family history. He contributed frequently to the columns of the Glasgow Herald. He also wrote a good deal otherwise, chiefly on antiquarian subjects. His love of music was very real and he was a member of Glasgow Amateur Dramatic Club. He had a most happy knack of light verse. He was a connoisseur in cuisine and no one could arrange a dinner or ball to better effect. It is a matter of regret that he was not painted by Raeburn, for he was one well fitted for that master’s brush. His strong features and ruddy, clean shaven face would ….have gone well with a white stock and a canary waistcoat. With him there passes an intimate knowledge of nineteenth century Glasgow.” (11)

In all that has been written about Thomas Donald there is no mention of particular interest in art, or of art collection. It is possible to surmise that his yachting experiences on the Clyde led to his interest in the particular painting which he donated.  It is also notable that the timing of his donation coincides with his move from Glasgow to Bishopton. He is buried in the Necropolis. (12)


(1) The Baillie July 8th 1896

(2) Scotland’s People Census 1861

(3) Old Country Houses of the Old Glasgow Gentry: Glasgow James Maclehose, 1878

(4) Post Office Directories

(5) http://www.canmore.org.uk

(6) http://www.prestwickgc.co.uk

(7) Glasgow Herald March 1st 1932

(8) Donald T.F. Western Club 1825 – 1925 (1925) : Glasgow, Maclehose, Jackson and Co. 1925

(9) Strang, John  Glasgow and its Clubs: London and Glasgow, Richard Griffin and Company, 1857

(10) The Baillie July 8th 1896

(11) Glasgow Herald March 1st 1932

(12) Necropolis Interment Register 1932, Mitchell Library Archives

Other Sources

Scotland’s People Census 1851-1911

Paisley Reference Library

Paisley and Renfrewshire Gazette

Castles and Mansions 1890

Sir Daniel Macauley Stevenson

Donor: Sir Daniel Macauley Stevenson

Painting: Princess Theresa  Benedikta Maria of Bavaria. (2452)

From the studio of Georg Desmarees

In the Glasgow Corporation minutes of 1944 (1) this painting  is listed as a portrait of Clementina Sobieska by Largilliere. It is now believed that the subject is Theresa Benedikta Maria, a princess of Bavaria, and it is now attributed to the studio of George Desmarees. (2)

Desmarees, George, 1697-1776; Princess Theresia Benedikta Maria of Bavaria (1725-1743)
Princess Theresa Benedikta Maria of Bavaria (1725-1743) Glasgow Museums Resource Centre © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Princess Theresa Benedikta Maria was the third child of Charles, Elector of Bavaria and Holy Roman Emperor. Theresa Benedikta Maria died at the age of 17 in 1743.

There is a Sobieski connection. The grandmother of the princess was a Sobieska, the daughter of King John III of Poland. The princess therefore had a familial connection with Clementina Sobieska. The portrait below of Clementina Sobieska gives an opportunity to compare the two women to see if there is any family resemblance. It may also help to explain why the initial confusion about the naming of the subject of the painting arose.

(c) Blairs Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
Princess Maria Clementina Sobieska (1702 – 1735). Wife of Prince James Frances Edward Stuart. Martin van Meytens (1695-1770). Reproduced by permission of The Blairs Museum Trust.

The donor of the painting of Princess Theresa Benedikta Maria was Sir Daniel M. Stevenson, Bart. The painting was bequeathed to him by his brother John, an entrepreneur who lived and worked in Pennsylvania.

Daniel Stevenson was an astute businessman, an iron and coal exporter. As well as his business interests, Stevenson was a formidable local politician who helped make governance in Glasgow a model for other cities across the world.

Anderson, James Bell, 1886-1938; Sir Daniel Macaulay Stevenson (1851-1944), Lord Provost of Glasgow (1911-1914)
Sir Daniel Macaulay Stevenson (1851 -1944). Lord Provost of Glasgow 1911 – 1914 James Bell Anderson (1886–1938). Glasgow Museums Resource Centre (GMRC) © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Daniel Macaulay Stevenson came from a notable family. His grandfather was Dan Macaulay who edited “The Liberator” and “The Free Trade Advocate” and was a noted social and political reformer. Born and raised in a tenement in Hutchesontown, his father was John Stevenson, an engineer, who was also committed to social improvement for the poor. One of his brothers was Robert Macaulay Stevenson, one of the Glasgow Boys. (3)

Daniel Stevenson was educated at the Glasgow Secular School. He left school at sixteen and served an apprenticeship with a city Shipbroking firm. In 1879 he set up his own business, exporting coal, and became the largest coal and iron exporter in Scotland. (4)

By all accounts, Daniel Stevenson was a successful businessman. But he was much more than that. He became a very significant local politician, serving as Lord Provost of Glasgow between 1911 and 1914. He represented the Woodside ward between 1892 and 1914. Sir Daniel was a Liberal with a strong belief in communal solutions to social problems. (5)

What were Stevenson’s political achievements? Museums and Art Galleries which open on Sunday  – the cartoon below shows Stevenson trying to force open the door of the People’s Palace on a Sunday, a testament not only to his vision for the Museums’ services, but also to his determination to ensure that his policies would be implemented even in the face of opposition.

baillie cartoon
The Baillie Cartoon Supplement: 22 December 1897, The Mitchell Library.

Other innovations overseen by Stevenson included: Corporation libraries, municipalisation of transport, telephone systems, licensing laws, gas and electricity and improved procedures and financial structures within the Corporation. Stevenson was a dedicated advocate of “Municipal Socialism”. He was a founder in 1889 of the Glasgow Social Union and a promoter of the Glasgow Workmen’s Dwellings Company, which aimed to provide decent housing for the  working class, with affordable rents. Stevenson believed that a society which took care of everyone was a stronger, more stable society. (6)

Sir Daniel Stevenson was also involved in promoting the Scottish Labour Colony Union. This was an organisation which aimed to provide work for those who had lost their jobs until they could find new ones and which, for the Glasgow branch, provided farm work in Dumfriesshire. The movement’s aim was to help those who were willing to help themselves. Today, this type of support for the unemployed has fallen out of favour, categorised as punishing the unemployed, but the movement had wide support in Stevenson’s time, including from the Salvation Army and Beatrice and Sydney Webb, the founders of the Fabian Society. (7)

Daniel M Stevenson, with other notable Liberals, presided over a period of municipal development in Glasgow which was the envy of many, including American politicians, who were particularly interested in how Glasgow was governed and the success of its municipalisation. They liked the model of the businessman politician, closely rooted in his local community, someone who knew what it was like in the working world and understood business concerns, but they were also drawn to the community element of the governance. Everyone was being catered for, rich and poor alike. Community cohesion was seen as critical. Other cities had similar models, but Glasgow’s was seen by many to outstrip the rest. (8)

Eventually the tide turned against Liberal socialism. The First World War, to which Sir Daniel was vehemently opposed, stating that “he would have preferred the Clyde to resound to the building of Merchant ships rather than the construction of warships” (Glasgow Vol II p.6.),  brought with its ending a new wave of socialism across Europe. Sir Daniel retired from local politics in 1914, but maintained his commitment to his community throughout the next thirty years.

He was a founding father of the Scottish National Academy of Music  which became the  Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, which is now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Stevenson’s sister was a talented musician but was unable to complete her musical education in Scotland due to lack of facilities. She went to study in Hamburg and eventually married there, her husband becoming the Mayor of Hamburg. (9) Stevenson also stated in a letter that he wanted to establish a music school so that students from the  Highlands and Island of Scotland could have access to musical education. (10) The Stevenson Hall at the Conservatoire was named in recognition of his generosity and effort in the establishment of the school. He endowed chairs of Italian and Spanish at Glasgow University and also exchange scholarships for Spanish, French and German studies. He established a citizenship fund at the University. He eventually became Chancellor of the University from 1934 -1945. He established chairs at Liverpool and London University. (11)

Sir Daniel was a noted Europhile and spoke a number of European languages. Although he opposed the First World War, he helped to organise an Ambulance Brigade during the Spanish Civil War.  He also received many awards from European Countries – Italy, Spain, Belgium and Germany, including the Legion d’honneur from France. (12)

According to the Baillie he was an intellectual, forward thinking man, although it did acknowledge that he was not a great public speaker. He was also a man who was ready to argue for what he believed in. (13) He stood for Parliament once but failed to be elected. It could be argued that Westminster’s loss was Glasgow’s gain.

Although Sir Daniel was a widely travelled man who enjoyed visiting other countries and often admired what he saw there, on receiving the freedom of Glasgow in 1929, he stated that: “One could have no worthier ambition than to be a good and faithful servant of one’s own city.”

There can be no doubt about his contribution to his home city. It is estimated that Sir Daniel gave £400,000 to the city until his death in 1944. In his will he remembered the city also, leaving his estate to the public good. His house at 5 Cleveden Road was left to the Salvation Army for use as a children’s home. His Steinway Grand piano along with all his sheet music and music books were left to the Conservatoire. Other books were left to the Mitchell Library

“Stevenson’s wholly positive outlook and concern to promote community values reflected a strong strand of continuity in Glasgow’s Civic government which had proved remarkably successful in maintaining the city’s integrity between 1833 and 1912” (Portable Utopia)

Sir Daniel died in 1944.

Sir Daniel Macaulay Stevenson (1851–1944), Lord Provost of Glasgow (1911–1914)

  1. Glasgow Corporation Minutes April 1944 – November 1944. !5th August 1944 p.1274
  2. Object file 2452 G.M.R.C
  3. DOLLAN,  P.J. (1944),  Forward  22 July  : Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Archive
  4. theglasgowstory.com: The Glasgow Story 1914 to 1950: Personalities – Sir Daniel Macaulay Stevenson
  5. ASPINWALL,  B. (1984) Portable Utopia: Glasgow and the United States 1820 – 1920 Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press
  6. glasgowhistory.co.uk/housing/bridgeton and dalmarnock
  7. FIELD, J. (2009) Able Bodies: Work Camps and the Training of the Unemployed in Britain before 1939. Stirling Institute of Education : University of Stirling
  8. MAVER, I; FRASER, W.H. (1996) Glasgow: Volume II 1830 – 1912, Manchester: Manchester University Press
  9. Glasgow Herald 17.7.1944: J. Arnold Fleming
  10. Letter from D.M.Stevenson 4.9.42: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Archive
  11. The Glasgow Herald: 12th July 1944;13th July 1944; 14 July 1944; 15th July 1944
  12. Glasgow City Council: Freedom of the City Recipients
  13. The Baillie: 18th March 1891; 29th  December 1897; 17th  October 1906; 7th  July 1909; 15th  November 1911; 2nd  October 1912; 17th  June 1914; 20th  January 1921

Other Reading: Who’s Who in Glasgow 1909 pp.198/199


Catherine Jane Balingall Birrell (1861-1933)

Knox, John, 1778-1845; The Cloch Lighthouse
Figure 1. John Knox, “The Cloch Lighthouse”. Donated by the Misses Birrell, October 1921. © CSG GIC Glasgow Museums Collection.

Women donors frequently present a challenge to the researcher. Many women who have donated paintings to Glasgow Museums seem to be “invisible”.

Obviously, the research is focused on less well known donors to the city, so it is to be expected that information on this group may be less easily available.  The time in which donors lived is also a factor in finding information about them. Many of the donors researched lived in the nineteenth and early to mid twentieth centuries, a time when women were less active in public life and where their realm was considered to be the domestic one. Women were frequently seen as adjuncts to their husbands, fathers or brothers.

Lady Violet Bonham Carter asked her governess in 1850, “What shall I do with my life?” Her governess replied, “Until you are eighteen you will learn. After that you will do nothing.” This paints a very extreme picture of a woman’s life. Obviously some Victorian women , usually from the upper and middle classes, may have “done nothing” in adulthood. However, Professor Sheila Rowbotham, in her history of twentieth century women, points out that many women, from all classes, were unwilling to be confined by the restrictions placed upon them by society and carved out careers for themselves. (1) At least one of the Birrell sisters was such a woman.

The Misses Birrell came from a large family, two sons and ten daughters, and lived in the west end of Glasgow at Wilton Street. The father, Alexander Birrell, originated from Falkland in Fife. He came to Glasgow and set up as a soft goods manufacturer and calenderer.  The mother of the family was Margaret McDowall Birrell. (2)

Of the two sons, little could be found about Samuel. He is listed in the 1881 census as a clerk to a West India Merchant. Alexander is listed in the same census, aged 18, as a clerk to a calenderer, possibly a start in the family business. He later became a partner in Crawford Easton and Company, a calico printing company,  married well and served in WW1 as an army reserve officer, for which he featured in the “Men You Know” column of the Baillie. (3)

Census returns show that many of the ten Birrell daughters worked for a living, although some had “own means”. Janet is listed in the census of 1891 as a “daily governess”. Agnes is listed as a nurse. Some sisters married and moved away from Glasgow.

This research focussed  on the four sisters who are listed as living in the family home during the 1901 census and who later died there, since they are the most likely donors of the painting. (4)

Lydia, who had no stated profession, was a lay member of Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ Club. (5)  Two of the four sisters, Margaret and Catherine, worked as teachers, Margaret teaching music and Catherine teaching English and Classics. Catherine worked from home. Catherine’s distinctive name, Catherine Jane Ballingall Birrell, led to the discovery that Catherine had attended Girton College in Cambridge between 1882 and 1885. (6) This was a relatively exciting find, since young women of the time tended not to go to university, particularly not to Oxford or Cambridge.

Catherine Jane Balingall Birrell Girton College Cambridge
Figure 2. Girton College 1882. Catherine Jane Balingall Birrell (Back row centre) © : The Mistress and Fellows , Girton College, Cambridge.

Catherine was also a member of a number of intellectual societies in Glasgow, including the Royal Philosophical Society, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and the Classical Association of Scotland.

Catherine was also a playwright and poet, writing as C.J.B Birrell. Her play “Two Queens – A Drama” was published by John Mclehose Glasgow in 1889. (7) This play deals with the struggle for succession between Mary Tudor and Jane Grey after the death of Edward VI. The play is  well written, with some feminist ideas explored, as in this conversation between Jane Grey and her husband, who hopes to become king as she becomes queen.

Lady Jane: “If power be equal, I am set aside to whom the crown was due: what sense in that? Why should the king leave me an empty honour ?”

Guildford: “Who argues with a woman? They’ve no wit to know when they are beaten. I shall go. So great a queen can never own a husband; Go, boast yourself in solitary state that you are queen of England, I am king.”

Her second play ” The Lesbians”, (8) appears to have been privately printed around 1914. This play is set on the island of Lesbos and deals with the last days of Sappho, leading up to her suicide on account of unrequited love for a young man. Both plays are available in the National Library in Edinburgh.

The book “Gendering the Nation” sheds a little more light.(9) Edwin Morgan had also discovered C.J.B. Birrell and her plays. Morgan stated that there was some lesbian interest in the Two Queens play which, though not overtly lesbian, does feature two very strong women.Morgan also saw the private publication of “The Lesbians”, alongside what he describes as the “sexless” initials of the author as indicative of “the circumspection of an undeclared interest” in lesbianism, although he also acknowledges that, at the time of publication, the modern meaning of “Lesbian” did exist, but would be found mostly in medical and psychological contexts. Usually, in these times, lesbian was taken to mean an inhabitant of Lesbos.

Morgan discovers more overtly lesbian themes in CJB Birrell’s book of poems “Things Old and New”, which was privately printed in Brighton in 1917. He selects the poem Gulduc and Guldelaun as evidence, the two women of the title  being in love with the same man, but also with each other

“But take ye heed, fair maidens all

How with mankind ye do

For the more love you give to them

The less they give to you.”

Morgan acknowledges his difficulty in trying to find any further information relating to C.J.B. Birrell, but hopes that “some day Catherine Birrell will emerge from the shadows and tell us whether these speculations are out of order”

Unfortunately, the research could not clarify the acquisition of the painting by the Birrell Family, or which of the sisters donated the painting. However, the research does confirm the idea that, if a woman of the nineteenth and twentieth century was strong enough, she could carve out a life and a career for herself, without marriage, and not be required to “do nothing”. It is also important to remember however, that Catherine’s story is not the only one. Hers is the story which has been found. Perhaps the other Birrell sisters have equally interesting stories which may be discovered at a later date.

Note: If you wish to reproduce image 2 please contact Girton College, Cambridge.


1.Rowbotham, Sheila  (1999),  Century of women: The History of women in Britain and the United States in the Twentieth Century: Penguin Publishing

2. Post Office Directories

3. Men You Know, The Baillie, 16/12/1914

4. 1881,1891,1901 census: Births, Deaths and Marriages: Scotlands People

5. Archive Material, Glasgow and West of Scotland Lady Artists’ Club, Mitchell              Library

6.www.googlebooks.com Register, Thomas Gray Cullum: University of Cambridge.1887

7. Birrell,  C.J.B. (1889) “Two Queens”, A Drama.  Maclehose and Sons: Glasgow :National Library of Scotland

8. Birrell,  C.J.B. (1914) “The Lesbians” : Private Publication: National Library of Scotland

9. Morgan, Edwin “A Scottish Trawl”, in Whyte, Christopher (1995) “Gendering the Nation”: Edinburgh University Press. Edinburgh