About this artwork

Glasgow-born Robert Crombie Saunders studied at the University of Glasgow before embarking on a career as a schoolmaster and a writer. His literary work mainly relates to various aspects of Scottish life and culture. In 1944 he edited a selection of Hugh MacDiarmid's poems, which did much to restore MacDiarmid's reputation after the Second World War. Crombie Saunders's poem on the Clearances is well known, but his work in general has been published sparingly. The artist, William Crosbie, saw experimentation as an essential aspect of a painter’s development. His work, created over fifty years, is diverse in style and ranges from cubist to surrealist. Here, the bold use of colour and large brushstrokes give the portrait an almost expressionist character.

William Crosbie

William Crosbie

Born in Hankow, China, to Scottish parents, Crosbie moved to Glasgow in 1926. He studied at Glasgow School of Art from 1932 to 1934, after which time he was able to travel in Europe on a Haldane Travelling Scholarship. From 1937 to 1939 Crosbie lived in Paris, where he studied under Léger and Maillol. In the 1940s and 1950s Crosbie made his name as a mural painter. His commissions included a mural for the Festival of Britain in 1951. Crosbie also produced illustrations for books and designed the scenery for a ballet.