Friday, 15 August 2014

John Milne Donald

Scottish Landscape Painter

Portrait by James S. Stewart

John Milne Donald was born in Nairn, Scotland.

His birth doesn’t appear to have been registered, so it may have been anytime from 1816 to 1821. He is believed to have been the son of Thomas Donald and Ann Milne who married on 24th March 1818 in the Parish of St. Nicholas, Aberdeen.

Little is known of his early life but his marriage can be found on the IGI
( at Glasgow on 4th March 1849
(Mary’s surname is listed as ‘Bradie’)

They are found on the 1851 Census with their baby daughter Ellen.

Mary’s widowed mother and her sisters were living at the same address -
11 Killermont Street, (Barony Parish), Glasgow as follows:

Helen Bredie, Head, Widow (of Manufacturer), age 71, born Glasgow
Janet Bredie, Daughter, age 31, Shopwoman, born Glasgow
Ebenezer Paterson, Grandson, age 14, Bookbinder Apprentice, born Glasgow
John Milne Donald, Head, age 30, Artist (Master), born Inverness
Mary Donald (nee Bredie), Daughter, age 28, born Glasgow
Ellen Donald, Grandchild, age 1 month, born Glasgow

Note that his age is stated as 30, which would make his year of birth 1821
and he is also listed as ‘Head’ of the household, so perhaps the two families
lived next door to one another.

On the Kelvin, 1858

By 1861 John and his family were living in the village of Rhu (or Row), on the east
side of Gare Loch in the County of Dunbartonshire.

The 1861 Census shows that their family had grown:

John Milne Donald, Head, age 41, Landscape Painter, born Nairn
Mary Donald, Wife, age 37, born Glasgow
Ellen Donald, Daughter, age 10, Scholar, born Glasgow
Annie Donald, Daughter, age 9, Scholar, born Glasgow
Thomas W. Donald, Son, age 8, Scholar, born Glasgow

Note that his age is stated as 41, which would make his year of birth 1820.

Greenock from Helensburgh, 1860

The head of Loch Lomond looking to Ben Vorlich, 1860

Picnic by the lake, 1863

Mary Donald, John’s wife died on the 23rd September 1865 at
West Princes Street, Helensburgh aged 46.
Her Death Certificate states that she was the daughter of
William Bredie, Merchant and Helen Bredie nee Dawson.
Her cause of death was Tubercular Disease of the Lungs and Intestines.

The following year on the 14th July 1866 John died aged 48
at Gartnavel Royal Lunatic Asylum, Partick.
His cause of death is listed as Epilepsy.

The informant of his death was an Asylum Attendant who gave John’s parents as
Alexander Donald, Writer and Annie Donald nee Forbes.
(Where these names came from no-one will ever know!)

John, his wife Mary and son Tom William Donald are buried in
Sighthill Cemetery, Glasgow.

The Inscription reads:

This stone is placed over the grave of
JOHN MILNE DONALD, Landscape Painter
By a few attached friends and admirers of his genius.
Born at Nairn in 1817, died at Glasgow 1st July 1866
MARY BREDIE his wife died 23rd September 1865 aged 46 years
Also TOM WILLIAM DONALD, Artist, his only son
Died 31st January 1883 aged 29 years
(Note the wrong date of death for John)

John’s eldest daughter Ellen (or Helen) married William Smith, an accountant
at 259 Renfrew Street, Glasgow on 14th June 1869

She died at Kilcreggan on 12th June 1885 aged 35 and is buried with
her husband in Cathcart Cemetery.

Glasgow School of Art

The Glasgow Herald, Wednesday, June 26th, 1907

The new Art School when completed will have, along Renfrew Street, a total length of 248 feet and a depth of 77 feet. The existing eastern section is 55 feet in height, but the roof is to be removed and an attic storey added, giving a uniform height over the whole extent of the building of 72 feet. The frontage to Renfrew Street is a continuation of the design of the eastern section, but the western elevation to Scott Street will form a special feature.

At the south-west corner of the building on the second floor the library is situated. Here the building rises to a height of 100 feet, and the wall will be broken by the library windows, 20 feet in height, between which will be placed a series of emblematic figures representing art, sculpture, architecture and music. The basement floor of the building is set apart for the modelling school and a series of technical studios for metal workers, wood carvers and enamellers, bookbinders, house decorators, etc., and there is a sub-basement in which there are rooms for stone carvers, pointers and casters. The modelling school measures 120 feet by 48, and has elementary, advanced, and life classrooms. Altogether on the basement floor there is accommodation for about 200 students. The life modelling room is lighted from the roof and is 30 feet in height, an all-important matter in connection with colossal statuary, as the largest piece of sculpture may be worked inside and a number of students employed upon it. On the basement floor there is also a lecture theatre, seated for 150 students, with an independent entrance from Scott Street.

On the ground floor are situated the still life and architectural schools. The ornament and still life classes occupy the corresponding floor of the eastern section, and this portion of the new section, which will accommodate about 200 students, will be set apart for the architectural school.

Passing to the first floor, there will be here also a rearrangement of classes. The eastern section, when the building is completed, will be given over entirely in the antique school and in the new or western section will be the life school of design, a large and finely lit museum, a school library and the headmaster’s private room and studio. The life school measures 120 feet by 35 feet, with a height of 28 feet and it will accommodate about 150 students. It is splendidly lighted from the front and it has also roof-lights, the second or attic-floor being recessed about 10 feet to permit of this arrangement.

The library is a handsome apartment, 35 feet square and 23 feet high. The bookcases are so placed that there will be recesses all round the room giving ample opportunities for private study. Adjoining the library is the librarian’s room.

The second or attic-floor will be appointed entirely for studios. In the new section there will be five private studios for professors, while in the old section over the existing building there will be nine studios for advanced students or for artists visiting the city.

Hitherto there has been a lack of facilities for artists from a distance who might desire the use of a studio temporarily to do some special piece of work and the arrangement to be made in the school of art, when it reaches completion, will be a great convenience to such visitors.

Class rooms for flower painting and composition will likewise be provided on this floor immediately over the library; and connected with these rooms will be a conservatory with light from the south-east.

The Growth of the School
(from a correspondent)

Sixty-seven years ago, in the upper rooms of a house in Ingram Street – at the foot of Montrose Street – diverted for the time from its purpose as business premises into a medium for the study of other art of peace, the Glasgow School of Art started its career. And there are not a few among the older citizens of Glasgow and the neighbourhood, who can still recall with a sense, somewhat of physical discomfort, the cheerless wintry mornings that saw them wondering their anti-auroral way to receive those lessons in drawing which, though rigorous and circumscribed in dexterity, were yet in certain instances to prove of fruitful issue to the recipients, and in all cases to serve as an incentive to further progress and to higher and more purely artistic attainments.

For from this humble beginning, in these chilling, yet courageous circumstances, the Glasgow School of Art has grown in power and broadened in development, until the stately but utilitarian building pictures the present ideal which those charges with the care of art education in the Western Metropolis have decided to complete, in order to satisfy the demands of a school whose pupils are as numerous and as earnest of any art institution in the three kingdoms, and whose work is receiving recognition that begins in Glasgow, but extends among the majority of civilised communities. The strength of the school has growm with the recognition of art as a vital factor in the commercial and social life of the city. It was the foresight of a few of the leading citizens of Glasgow, interested in art education, that gave the institution its birth; just as a small body of equally intelligent civic fathers saw in the MacLellan collection of pictures the nucleus of the present famous gallery of paintings, and as the municipality has just crowned their art collections by building in Kelvingrove Park a palace fit to contain such treasures, so have the citizens and the State combined to erect an institution wherein the sons and daughters of the citizens of Glasgow may receive an art education rendering them capable in the present of appreciating art, whether pictured, carved, or manufactured, and possibly give to certain of their number that cunning of hand that may either enable them to add their picture or their sculpture to the galleries, or widen that knowledge of design and application that shall enrich the product of the factory and of the workshop.

Certain it is that it is long since that Glasgow relied upon any hands other than those of her own artists to place her among the art centres of the world and just as surely it is that designers working in Glasgow are capable of more than holding their own among the demands made by the world’s markets.

In the education alike of painter, designer, and craftsman the Glasgow School of Art has played an important part, and the governors, fully alive alike to the needs of the hour and the question of future developments, have met the responsibility committed to their charge with commendable fullness of thought and action. Their untiring efforts to make the school in every way a success has been munificently acknowledged by the State, acting through the Scottish Education Department, and as equally responded to by the municipality and by the growing circle of warm-hearted friends interested in the work and development of the school.

The building, whether studied internally or viewed from the outside, may be said to be, in more senses than one, the latest development in architectural thought, but when all is said and done there is little doubt that as a workshop it thoroughly meets all demands, and the six years that have been spent in the portion now standing have found out few faults in the outer structure or in the inner arrangements. So much is this the case that the new half is virtually to be a repeat of that now standing.

Certain changes in external treatment appear, but the spacious, well-lighted rooms that now exist are to be repeated, and the whole building when completed will be another noteworthy addition to the wealth of architectural art in Glasgow.

The design is from the firm of Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh, the work being carried out under the personal supervision of Mr. Mackintosh. And it may be perhaps a practical testimony to the character of the education given that Mr. Mackintosh is an artist who received his early training in the school, and who by this, his latest work, adds to his reputation as an architect and gives an added lustre to his Alma Mater.

Living and working in the school as a pupil, and having a knowledge at first hand of the requirements of an art school, Mr. Mackintosh has conceived these requirements as from the inside out-wards, and he has embodied his knowledge and experience in a building that sums up the necessities of the art education of today in a spirit that testifies to the beautiful in the essential.

Thursday, 14 August 2014


“Drooko” was the trading name of Joseph Wright, Glasgow umbrella maker.

His parents, James Wright and Margaret Kelly Shearer were married
in Paisley on 29th August 1831.

Joseph was born between 1846 and 1849 in Airdrie, Lanarkshire.

He can be found living with his parents and siblings at 50 Stirling Street, Airdrie
although the 1851 Census states ‘New Monkland’

James Wright, Head, age 40, Hairdresser, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Wife, age 37, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
John Wright, Son, age 15, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Daughter, age 5, born Airdrie
William Wright, Son, age 3, born Airdrie
Joseph Wright, Son, age 2, born Airdrie

James Wright, Head, age 40, Hairdresser, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Wife, age 37, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
John Wright, Son, age 15, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Daughter, age 5, born Airdrie
William Wright, Son, age 3, born Airdrie
Joseph Wright, Son, age 2, born Airdrie

By 1861, the family which had expanded, had moved a few miles west
and were living at ‘Bank Buildings’ Coatbridge

James Wright, Head, age 50, Hairdresser, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Wife, age 48, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Daughter, age 15, born Airdrie
William Wright, Son, age 14, born Airdrie
Joseph Wright, Son, age 12, born Airdrie
James Wright, Son, age 9, born Airdrie
Catherine Wright, Daughter, age 7, born Airdrie

Joseph’s elder brother John had married and was living with his wife
Margaret at 54 Stirling Street, Airdrie.

10 years later, in 1871, Joseph was still living at home with his parents
At Main Street, Coatbridge – this may or may not have been ‘Bank Buildings’.

James Wright, Head, age 60, Hairdresser, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Wife, age 58, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Daughter, age 25, Shopwoman, born Airdrie
Joseph Wright, Son, age 22, Barber, born Airdrie
James Wright, Son, age 20, Shopman, born Airdrie
Catherine Wright, Daughter, age18, Shopwoman, born Airdrie

Joseph’s mother Margaret Shearer died at Academy Street, Coatbridge
on 1st May 1874, aged 63 years.

Academy Street, Coatbridge

The remaining family are Academy Street on the 1881 Census
as follows:

James Wright, Head, age 60, Portioner, born Paisley, Renfrewshire
Margaret Wright, Daughter, age 35, Draper, born Airdrie
Joseph Wright, Son, age 32, Umbrella Manufacturer, born Airdrie
James Wright, Son, age 30, Fancy Goods Merchant, born Airdrie

On 6th March 1884, Joseph aged 35 married Agnes Cowan aged 23,
of 6 Douglas Terrace, Hamilton, daughter of
Henry Cowan, Pawnbroker and Agnes Rowland Cowan nee Wilson

The 1886/87 Glasgow Post Office Directory lists:
“Wright, Joseph, Umbrella Manufacturer, 48 Argyle Arcade, Glasgow;
House: Aimer Villa, Albert Place, Coatbridge

Argyle Arcade

Joseph and his wife Agnes moved sometime between 1881 and 1891
to 77 Shields Road, Tradeston/Pollokshields, Glasgow,
perhaps to be closer to Joseph’s workplace and various shops
in the City Centre.

On the 1891 Census, they are listed as follows:
Joseph Wright, Head, age 42, Umbrella Maker, born Airdrie
Agnes Wright, Wife, age 30. born Coatbridge
James D. Wright, Son, age 3, born Coatbridge
Henry C. Wright, Son ,age 3, born Busby, Renfrewshire.

Business was apparently booming!

In the next few years, adverts were placed in publications as far afield
as New Zealand, and the one below appeared in the Otago Witness (1892).

Another full page advert appeared in
‘Portraits and Autographs, An Album for the People”
By William Thomas Stead (published 1891)

In February 1895, a poster designed by Frances and Margaret MacDonald was
commissioned. (Margaret being the future wife of Charles Rennie Macintosh).

Adverts were consistently placed in the Glasgow Post Office Directories.

By the time the 1901 Census was taken, Joseph’s family had grown
and they had moved from Shields Road to Sauchiehall Street :

Joseph Wright, Head, age 52, Umbrella Maker, born Airdrie
Agnes Wright, Wife, age 40. born Coatbridge
Henry C. Wright, Son age 13, born Busby, Renfrewshire
Gordon R. Wright, son, age 3, born East Kilbride, Lanarkshire
Oswald M. Wright, son, age 9 months, born East Kilbride, Lanarkshire
(Eldest son James D. Wright was not included)

Union Street, Glasgow

The 1911 Census states that Agnes had had 5 children – 4 still living but it is
unknown when the 5th child was born or died.

Now living at Rowancliff, Egidea Avenue, Eastwood, Renfrewshire
Joseph Wright, Head, age 62, Umbrella Maker, born Airdrie
Agnes Wright, Wife, age 50. born Coatbridge
Douglas James Wright, Son, age 25 Medical Student, born Coatbridge
Henry C. Wright, Son, age 23, Umbrella Manufacturer, born Busby, Renfrewshire
Gordon R. Wright, son, age 13, born Giffnock, Lanarkshire
Oswald M. Wright, son, age 10, born Giffnock, Lanarkshire
(Note that eldest son James, or now referred to as Douglas James
is back with the family)

Presumably son Henry carried on the Family Business after his father
Joseph died of heart failure on the 16th November 1915, aged 66
 in the covered passage leading from the Railway Station to the Pier
at Wemyss Bay, North Ayrshire.

In the Register of Corrected Entries, his cause of death is recorded as
‘Cardiac Debilitation accelerated by Diabetes’

The Notice of his death was published in the Glasgow Herald
in two subsequent issues, his home address given as
Rowancliffe, Giffnock.

Joseph was buried in Woodside Cemetery, Paisley,
on Friday 19th November 1915

Joseph’s eldest son James Douglas Wright, L.R.C.P. & S. (Edinburgh)
Registered with the Medical Recruiting Scheme in 1916.
He was 30 years of age at was engaged at the
Scottish National Red Cross Hospital, Bellahouston
Additional details:
Group A, Lieutenant, Royal Army Medical Corps, General Service.

Further research and with the kind assistance of Renfrewshire Council
confirms that a number of the family were interred in
Woodside Cemetery, Paisley,
Section/Compartment 15 Lair 593

Still born child, died 13th November 1888
at 6 Maxwell Terrace, Pollokshields
Still born child, died 30th November 1889
at 6 Maxwell Terrace, Pollokshields
Joseph Wright junior, died 5th March 1900 age 6
at 477 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow
Joseph Wright senior, died 16th November 1915 age 66
at Wemyss Bay, residence Giffnock
Oswald Wright died 5th November 1917 age 17 at Rowancliffe, Giffnock
Dr. James Wright died 13th August 1929 age 44
At Royal Victoria Hospital Glasgow, residence Essex