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. 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. 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