William Gibb 1839-1929
William Gibb was an accomplished artist and elder brother of the world renowned Robert Gibb RSA. William was born and reared in Laurieston Stirlingshire in 1839 but subsequently moved to Edinburgh where he studied art under the tutelage of Robert Scott Lander RSA.
Later he went to London where he was apprenticed to the publishing and lithographic firm of “Day and Sons”. During the evenings he continued to study and paint pictures and his ability as an artist was recognised and highly complimented by John Phillip RA who encouraged him to become more assertive in promoting his work into the public arena. William however was a reticent and deeply religious individual and preferred to further his career by undertaking commissioned projects on behalf of private clients and patrons.
Examples of his work-
Sir David and Lady Cameron, Sir John Reid and others, commissioned William Gibb to paint some forty watercolours representing various relics of the Royal House of Stuart. The entire collection was then presented as a gift to the National Library of Scotland. Later further water colours depicting a silver cup by Cellini and a rare Chinese vase were commissioned and presented to the museum in Stirling. The William Gibb chromolithographs published in 1893 as the “Abbotsford relics of Sir Walter Scott” are highly regarded as are those from the 1888 authoritative folio entitled “Musical Instruments –Historic, Rare and Unique” chronicled by the musicologist A J Hipkins and illustrated by William Gibb.
The most important legacy of the art and technical skill of Willliam Gibb is found in his 1896 portfolio consisting of 36 chromolithographs depicting “Naval and Military Trophies and Personal Relics of British Heroes” this was dedicated by permission to HM Queen Victoria with descriptive notes by Sir Richard Rivington Holmes F.S.A. and contains a valedictory endorsement from Field Marshall Viscount Garnet Wolseley. KP. GCB.
In my collection I have 27 (9.5ins x 14ins), chromolithographs, on Japanese paper,
signed by the artist W Gibb in 1896, with an annotation indicating each to be the 7th impression from a print- run which was limited to 300 copies.
Every picture is accompanied by a narrative describing the history and origin of the items displayed in terms redolent of the apogee of Empire. E.g. this introductory tribute from,
Field Marshall Viscount Garnet Wolseley…“Some time ago I promised the Queen’s Librarian to write a short introduction to this great national work,………..its charming drawings speak for themselves and remind us of the glorious deeds done for England by our Soldiers and Sailors from the days of great Queen Bess to those of her far greater descendant Victoria Queen and Empress….. were I asked to single out the two relics which affect me most amongst those described in this work, I would select the bullet that killed Nelson and the well-thumbed bible of my own dear friend Charles Gordon…..surely (no monument) can appeal more forcibly to the sentiment of a proud and fighting race than the vile distorted lump of lead here depicted, the bullet which killed the most renowned admiral of the 19th century perhaps the greatest the world has ever known.”