Eric Robertson

Mary Newbery, 1892 - 1985. Artist (1911)

About this artwork

This beautifully rendered drawing illustrates Robertson’s skill as a draughtsman. It is a portrait of Mary Newbery, an artist who became part of The Edinburgh Group in 1919. Robertson met her as a result of his relationship with fellow artist Cecile Walton, the daughter of painter E. A. Walton. Although in a relationship with Cecile, a biographer of the couple states that Robertson was attracted to Mary’s fair complexion which contrasted Cecile’s dark hair. This underlines the sensual quality of this delicate drawing, which shows the influence of the Pre-Raphaelites - identifiable in the subtle tone, thick hair, bare neck and alluring eye contact. In comparison to the overtly erotic tone of many of Robertson’s depictions of the female nude, romanticism is the dominant theme in this work.

Eric Robertson

Eric Robertson

Robertson was one of the most gifted students of his generation. Born in Dumfries, he moved to Edinburgh at the turn of the twentieth century and befriended the Symbolist painter, John Duncan, who became an important influence on his work. He was also inspired by the Pre-Raphaelites and the French Symbolist painter Gustave Moreau. Robertson featured in several group shows from 1912-4, which led to the formation of The Edinburgh Group in 1919. During the War he was stationed with the French Ambulance Unit where he began to paint more landscapes, yet it is his nude figure compositions, which scandalised Edinburgh society, that he is perhaps most associated. In 1923, following the failure of his marriage he moved to Liverpool and by the early 1930s he was largely forgotten as a painter.