Robert Weir Allan, RSW VPRWS RBC ROI NEAC (1851-1942)
As a painter of oils and watercolours, particularly of landscapes, Robert Weir Allen developed a relaxed handling and an atmospheric treatment of motifs. Robert Weir Allan was born in Glasgow on 11 November 1851, the fourth of five children of David Allan, co-founder of the firm of engravers, lithographers and draughtsmen, Allan and Ferguson, and his wife, Catherine (née Glassford). He grew up at 11 Clarendon Place, 263 New City Road, Mary Hill, Milton, Glasgow, and was educated in the city, while probably receiving his early lessons in art from his father. He first exhibited at the Glasgow Institute in 1873 and in London, at the Society of British Artists, in 1874. He would exhibit regularly at the Royal Academy of Arts and the Royal Scottish Academy.
Between 1875 and 1880, Allan studied in Paris, at both the Académie Julian and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, under Alexandre Cabanel. In 1878, he was joined by Arthur Melville, and together they absorbed the influence of the Impressionists.
On his return to Scotland in 1880 he joined the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Water Colours. In 1881, he moved to London, and soon settled at Avon House, 33 Steele’s Road, Haverstock Hill. However, he returned to Scotland in order to paint, often taking as his subject fishing villages on the northeast coast, including Portsoy, where he painted with W Y MacGregor. Moving to an address in Piccadilly, he became an active member of a number of leading exhibiting societies, including the New English Art Club (which he joined in 1886) and the Royal Society of Painters in Water-Colours (of which he became an associate in 1887, a full member in 1896, and the Vice-President during the years 1908-10). From 1889, he lived at 2 Spenser Street, Victoria, while, by 1899, he had moved to Buckingham Gate. In 1911, he married George Trumbull, the daughter of Frederick Parker Trumbull of Ithaca, New York.
On several occasions, Allan made sketching tours on the Continent. Travelling more widely, he visited India (1891-92) and Japan (1907), and made a world tour in 1900. He also exhibited internationally, sending works to the Salon des Artistes Français in Paris until 1939, and being awarded medals in 1889 and 1900 for the Exposition Universelle, and classed as hors-concours.
His work is represented in the collections of the Royal Watercolour Society, and numerous public collections, including the V&A; Manchester Art Gallery; and Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums and Glasgow Museums.