Biographical sketch of R. W. Macbeth

Date Created

c. 1884


Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor


F. G. Stephens, Artists at Home, photographed by J. P. Mayall and reproduced in facsimile by photoengraving on copper plates; edited, with biographical notes and descriptions, by Frederick George Stephens (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle and Rivington; New York: Appleton & Co., 1884), pp. 87-88


Macbeth, Robert Walker (1848-1910), Scottish painter and illustrator

Date Issued

August 1884


Born in Glasgow, Macbeth trained at the Edinburgh Life School before entering the Royal Academy School in 1871. From that time he exhibited both paintings and works on paper at the Dudley Gallery, and from 1873 at the Royal Academy. His masterpiece, A Fen Farm, was shown at the RA in 1884. Since 1878, Macbeth also exhibited at the Grosvenor Galery. He credits Frederick Walker, G. Pinwell, G. Mason, and J. E. Millais with influencing his work, and out of gratitude he is currently producing etchings after their paintings.



Is Referenced By

“Some Fine Art Books.” The Graphic, issue 788, Jan. 3, 1885. "Part VI. of 'Artists at Home' (S. Low and Co.), contains the portraits of five very opposite characters—E. J. Poynter, R.A., T. O. Barlow, R.A., Macbeth and Storey, A.R.A.’s, and Mr. Gladstone. The volume fully sustains the promise of the earlier numbers, the photo engravings are excellent, and the letterpress brief and to the point."


Jean Ingelow (1820–1897), "The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire


The online edition of this work in the public domain, i.e., not protected by copyright, has been produced by the National Gallery of Art.




Department of Image Collections, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
Omeka record contributed by Linda Merrill

Date Submitted

September 23, 2016



THIS able painter in oil, draughtsman in water-colours, and etcher, is a son of Mr. Norman Macbeth, R.S.A., and brother of Mr. James Macbeth, and was born in Glasgow, September 30, 1848. Having been educated at Edinburgh and in Germany, he entered the Edinburgh Life School at the age of eighteen. In 1870 he came to London, and became a Student in the Royal Academy, on the 3rd of January, 1871. He contributed to a London gallery for the first time in 1870, when his “Des Etrangers” was at the General Exhibition of Water-Colour Drawings at the Dudley Gallery, with “A Bright Part of the Path,” both drawings, and two woodcuts. These works attracted considerable attention. He was again represented in the same exhibition, especially by means of “Pier-head, Newhaven,” and “Forgotten” (1873); “A Study in Lincolnshire,” and “London Lights” (1875). In the Winter Exhibition of Cabinet Pictures in Oil at the Dudley Gallery, Mr. Macbeth appeared with “On the Thames” (1871); “Mid-Day in Greece,” and “A Word of Advice” (1872); “A Backwater of the Thames” (1873); “While Fishing Boats lie nestled in the Bay,” and “Welcome as the Flowers in May” (1873); “The Bower Window” (1874); “Fireside Friends,” and “Sisters” (1875); “Fisherman’s Children” (1876); “A Bacchante,” “My Lady Bountiful” (1879); and “The Way down the Cliff” (1880). He was an active member of the Committee of the last-named gathering, and took a similar part in promoting the Exhibition of Black and White held in the Dudley Gallery, and he sent several works to it, including drawings in monochrome, and etchings.
Mr. R. W. Macbeth has contributed to the Academy Exhibition since 1873, when he made his first appearance with “Sunshine and Shade.” In 1874 we had “Phillis in the New-Made Hay,” followed in 1875, by “Ca’ the yowes to the knowes,” and “Mother and Child.” “A Lincolnshire Gang” established the artist’s reputation on a much higher level than it had been already placed, and was one of the leading pictures in the London gatherings of the year 1876. “Potato Harvest in the Fens,” exhibited in 1877, brought increase of distinction to the painter. “Sedge Cutting in Wicker’s Fen, Cambridgeshire— {88} Early Morning,” came forth in 1878. Three etchings, and a picture of “A Sardine Fishery” were produced in 1879. “In Clover,” a painting, and an etching of the previous year’s picture, were shown in 1880. “The Ferry” was at Burlington House in 1881; “Waiting,” “The Ferry Inn,” and “Betrothed” in 1882. In January, 1883, the artist was elected an Associate of the Royal Academy, and in May following justified his position by “A Sacrifice,” “The Signal,” pictures, and a large etching of “The Harvest Moon,” after George Mason’s famous idyl. The contribution of the present year is, probably, the artist’s masterpiece, and will be remembered as “A Fen Farm,” representing a handsome Lincolnshire lass standing at a field gate just before sundown, while the golden light flooded her whole form and all the landscape, and in the words of Miss Ingelow’s ballad, she cried to the homeward-coming kine: --

“Cusha! cusha! cusha! calling,
For the dews will soon be falling.”

An etching after Pinwell’s clever “Pied-Piper of Hamelin” accompanied this brilliant and vigorous example.
Mr. Macbeth was elected an Associate of the Society of Painters in Water-Colours in 1871, and in that year contributed to the two collections in Pall Mall, “Gipsies,” “Frozen In—Duddington Loch, near Edinburgh,” “An Empty Spindle,” “Sketch,” and “Tween the Gloamin’ and the Mirk.” “Linked Names, “Land at Last,” “My Roses,” “Meal Time,” and “Le Plaisir de la Pêche,” were seen in 1872; followed by “News,” “Die Rückkehr,” Preparing a Feast,” “The Apprentice,” and “A Well” (1873); “Only an April Shower” (1874), “A Winter’s Walk,” and “Motherly Indulgence” 1875; “Convalescent,” “A Lullaby,” and “The Day after the Fair” (1876); “The Ghost Story” and “The Morning Post” (1877); “Lady Bountiful” (1878), and “Sardine Fishing Boat” (1879). In 1880, Mr. Macbeth seceded from the Society, having contributed three works to the Winter Exhibition which closed in that year.
Mr. Macbeth has been represented annually at the Grosvenor Exhibition since 1878, when he contributed “Coming from St. Ives’ Market;” “Fen Flood,” “The First Tiff,” and other pictures.
At his graceful desire I add that Frederick Walker, G. Pinwell, G. Mason, and Mr. Millais influenced him most as a student; it is out of gratitude to them and others of the school that he is now producing etchings after their works.

Original Format

Book pages





Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor, ROBERT WALKER MACBETH, A.R.A.

Cite As

Frederick George Stephens (1828-1907), author and editor, “ROBERT WALKER MACBETH, A.R.A.,” Victorian Artists at Home, accessed May 26, 2024,

Item Relations

Item: R. W. MACBETH, A.R.A. dcterms:relation This Item
Item: Wychcombe Studios, Studio of R. W. Macbeth dcterms:relation This Item