The Foulis Academy that flourished for around fifteen years from 1755 was Glasgow's first art school. Several important artists trained there including David Allan and James Tassie. Tassie's miniature relief portraits made in glass paste are the most complete record of the individuals who created the Enlightenment in Scotland. One of the most distinguished of these people, the surgeon, William Hunter, left his collection to Glasgow University. It included a wonderful collection of paintings. When it opened early in the 19th century it was Scotland's first public museum. The city's great municipal collection began, however, with gifts and bequests from such great collectors as Archibald McLellan (1795-1854). The McLellan Galleries bear his name.
But the city also attracted living artists. The first chronicler of Glasgow was the landscape painter John Knox who recorded the city and its environs in the 1820s and 1830s in such memorable paintings as "The Trongate" and "First Steamboat on the Clyde", a view looking down to Dumbarton Rock with the steamship puffing across the river. Horatio McCulloch was a pupil of Knox in Glasgow and went on to become one of the greatest interpreters of Walter Scott's romantic vision of the Scottish landscape. His painting of Glencoe is a Scottish icon.
McCulloch went to live on the east coast, however, and it was the portrait painters, John Graham Gilbert and Daniel McNee, who really established the professional community of artists in Glasgow. They were behind the first exhibition societies that led eventually to the first permanent professional body of artists in the city, The Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts (RGI), in 1861.
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