George Harvey (painter)

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Sir George Harvey

Sir George Harvey by Amelia Robertson Hill.JPG
Sir George Harvey by Amelia Robertson Hill
George Frederick Harvey

(1806-02-01)1 February 1806
Died22 January 1876(1876-01-22) (aged 69)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Resting place Warriston Cemetery
Education Trustees' Academy
Edinburgh College of Art
Eliza Margaret Carstairs
(m. 1837;died 1844)

Margaret Muir
(m. 1847;died 1854)

Sir George Frederick Harvey FRSE RSA (1 February 1806 22 January 1876), Scottish painter.


Early life

He was the son of George Harvey, a watchmaker, and Elizabeth (née Jeffrey) Harvey, and was born at 59 Main Street, St Ninians, a small village near Stirling. His brother was Bailie Harvey was long active in Glasgow municipal affairs. [1]

Soon after his birth his parents removed to Stirling, where George was apprenticed to Mr McLaren, a bookseller on Bow Street. His love for art having, however, become very decided, in his eighteenth year he entered the Trustees' Academy on Picardy Place in Edinburgh. Here he so distinguished himself that in 1826 he was invited by the Scottish artists, who had resolved to found a Scottish Academy, to join it as an associate (see Royal Scottish Academy). [2]


Harvey's first picture, "A Village School," was exhibited in 1826 at the Edinburgh Institution; and from the time of the opening of the Academy in the following year he continued annually to exhibit. His best-known pictures are those depicting historical episodes in religious history from a puritan or evangelical point of view, such as "Covenanters' Preaching," "Covenanters' Communion," "John Bunyan and his Blind Daughter," "Sabbath Evening," and the "Quitting of the Manse." [2]

He was, however, equally popular in Scotland for subjects not directly religious; and "The Bowlers," "A Highland Funeral," "The Curlers," "A Schule Skailin'," and "Children Blowing Bubbles in the Church-yard of Greyfriars', Edinburgh," manifest the same close observation of character, artistic conception and conscientious elaboration of details. In "The Night Mail" and "Dawn Revealing the New World to Columbus" the aspects of nature are, made use of in different ways, but with equal happiness, to lend impressiveness and solemnity to human concerns. He also painted landscapes and portraits. [2]

In 1829 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy; in 1864 he succeeded Sir John Watson Gordon as president, a role which he held until 1876. He was knighted in 1867. [2]

Published works

Sir George Harvey was the author of a paper on the "Colour of the Atmosphere," read before the Edinburgh Royal Society, and afterwards published with illustrations in Good Words; and in 1870 he published a small volume entitled Notes of the Early History of the Royal Scottish Academy. Selections from the Works of Sir George Harvey, PRSA, described by the Rev. AL Simpson, FSA Scot., and photographed by Thomas Annan, appeared at Edinburgh in 1869. [2]

Personal life

The grave of Sir George Harvey, Warriston Cemetery The grave of George Harvey, Warriston Cemetery.jpg
The grave of Sir George Harvey, Warriston Cemetery

He was married firstly to Eliza Margaret Carstairs (1818-1844) in 1839. Before her death, they were the parents of two daughters: Ellen Harvey and Elizabeth Harvey, neither of whom married. [3]

After her death in 1844, he married, secondly, to Margaret Muir (1805–1854), a daughter of Helen (née Macfie) Muir, in 1847. She died in August 1854. [3] His niece Nellie (or Nelly) Harvey (1865–1949) was also a painter. [4] [5]

He died at 21 Regent Terrace in Edinburgh on 22 January 1876. [6] He is buried in Warriston Cemetery against the east wall, in the overgrown area just south of the former east gate. [7]

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  1. The original oil painting is rarely on display due to bad bitumen damage caused by Harvey's experiments with varnish. [9]
  2. The objects in front of the painting are tawses.
  1. "MONDAY MORNING". Glasgow Herald . 11 December 1876. p. 4. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Harvey, Sir George". Encyclopædia Britannica . Vol. 13 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 42.
  3. 1 2 Rogers, Charles (1871). Monuments and monumental inscriptions in Scotland. p. 129. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  4. "Mutual Art - Nellie Harvey".
  5. "20th Century Art in the Smith".
  6. "DEATH OF SIR GEORGE HARVEY. Sir George Harvey, President of the Royal Scottish Academy, who has been long in failing health, died at Edinburgh on Saturday". Glasgow Herald. 24 January 1876. p. 4. Retrieved 1 April 2021.
  7. Mitchell , Anne (1993), "The People of Calton Hill", Mercat Press, James Thin, Edinburgh, ISBN   1-873644-18-3
  8. "Reformation". Tullibody. Angel Fire. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  9. Harvey, George. "Quitting the Manse". National Galleries of Scotland. Antonia Reeve. Retrieved 8 July 2017.