This sculpture of Niel Gow, Robert Burns and Mrs Gow was made by the sculptor William Anderson of Perth. Where is it now?, I wonder.
This may be his sculpture ‘Niel Gow’ that was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Aacdemy Exhibition in 1858 but has not been traced.
A Biographical Dictionary of Sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851 tells us:
The son of David Anderson, he continued the family business at County Place, Perth after his father’s death in 1847. He showed a figure of a Highlander throwing the putting-stone with reliefs illustrating highland games on the pedestal at the Great Exhibition of 1851. In the same year he went into partnership with Alexander Christie. He received his first important commission, for a bust of Robert Peel for the Peel Memorial in Forfar, in 1852. A review of the work in the Illustrated London News described Anderson as a young sculptor of promise and noted that he had executed the bust for a nominal fee (ILN, 21 May 1853, 397). The Forfar memorial is reputed to be the first permanent memorial to Peel erected in Scotland. In 1854 Anderson executed a heroic statue of Burns, which he presented to his native town. It was described by the Builder as ‘of manly make’ and ‘enveloped in the homely folds of a Scottish plaid’ (Builder, 1854, 295). The sculptor died at Perth in 1867.
The engraving, featured in the Illustrated London News (January 20 1859, p.116) was based on a photograph of the group by Mr Thomson of Perth who, it was reported, had also made a stereograph from it. Wouldn’t it be nice to learn that a copy had survived and that we might view it in Victorian 3D?
The annual Niel Gow Festival is almost upon us and I hear that the organisers aspire to commissioning a sculpture of old Niel. I wonder if it will turn out as fine as this ensemble.