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Robert Noble RA RSA (1857–1917)

Robert Noble was born at Edinburgh on 27 January 1857 to Thomas, a railwayman, and his spouse Janet Inglis. He was apprenticed at 14 to an Edinburgh lithographer but he also worked with his older cousin James Campbell Noble in his Picardy Place studio while taking the by then established route to the Trustees’ School on the Mound and RSA Life Class (where James Campbell Noble was one of his teachers). Spells in Paris at the Carolus-Duran studio changed his output from figurative to landscape subjects.

Campbell Noble was a friend of both WD McKay and East Linton’s CM Hardie and his influence rubbed off on his younger cousin who, by the late 1880s, had made East Linton his home. He was to remain there the rest of his life (although for a considerable period he kept the Picardy Place studio, if only as an accommodation address). Robert Noble became the central figure of the band of artists working out of East Linton. Over twenty have been identified, amongst the most notable being Robert Hope, William Miller Frazer and Thomas Bromley Blacklock. Noble extended a friendly welcome to every visiting artist which, together with his growing reputation in London, encouraged artists from all parts of the UK to paint the beauties of East Lothian. The Haddingtonshire Courier reported: genial in disposition, and of the kindliest temperament, he was an acquisition to the social gathering or hour.

In 1891 the Society of Scottish Artists formed and Noble became their first president. He became ARSA in 1892, RSA 1903, being admitted RA in 1903. He exhibited widely, achieving a bronze medal from the Paris International Exhibition of 1900, and was widely admired for his skill, impartiality and tact on the RSA Hanging Committee. He was secretary of Tyneside Curling Club and an enthusiastic angler and golfer, freemason, and elder of Prestonkirk Church, in which kirkyard he was interred.

Robert Noble died very suddenly at his home, The Neuk, Prestonkirk, on 12 May 1917.

Our collections contain a number of works by Robert Noble and copies are also displayed on the Your Paintings website, along with many others in public collections across the UK.

The archives also hold a detailed research collection on Robert Noble, compiled by Roger Durman. More details on this can be viewed here.

One thought on “Robert Noble RA RSA (1857–1917)”

  1. Ninian Fergus says:

    I loved the exhibition, but it’s not instantly obvious in Haddington, and again not even in the John Gray Centre itself. I bought the catalogue/guide, and I thought the cost of £10 was a wee bit steep considering its size. But I don’t really grudge it as it is going to a good cause. But I fear many lovers of Scottish art are going to miss this exhibition. I only heard of it from a friend, who found out by accident.

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