How can we help you...

Commemorative Plaques Record Details

George Russell Gowans (1843 - 1924)

Picture of the Palque

Location : 119 Broomhill Road

Area : Aberdeen

Plaque Type : Yellow

About George Russell Gowans : Artist. Born in 1843 at Woodside and served his apprenticeship at Keith & Gibb lithographers, along with fellow artist Sir George Reid and John Bulloch, editor of Scottish Notes and Queries and various volumes of the New Spalding Club. A winner of a National Medal for Success in Art from South Kensington in 1879, Gowans also became a Master Teacher of Art in that same year. He was a founding member in 1885 of Aberdeen Artists’ Society. In 1893 he was elected to the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolours (RSW) and at one time served as a member of the Hanging Committee. Gowans was active in the Northern Arts Club, serving as its Vice President in 1910-12. His marriage to Jessie Ann Reid in 1886 was officiated by H.W. Wright, Minister of Ferryhill, and the couple lived first at 267 Union Street, then at 36 Holburn Street, and finally at 119 Broomhill Road. Gowans is remembered mainly as a landscape artist of North East Scotland although his work covers many areas of Scotland, England and northern France, particularly Normandy and Picardy. He died in 1924, one year after the death of his wife

More Information : Born at 33 Barronshall Lane in Woodside (now Great Northern Road), Gowans was his parents' first child. A sister, Maria, was born in 1845 but died shortly thereafter. A younger brother, Samuel Frederick Ritchie Gowans, was born in 1847 and later served in the merchant marine, sailing clipper ships to China. His father, George Gowans, was a veteran of the 93rd Regiment of Foot and served in Ireland, the West Indies, England, Canada and Scotland (including Aberdeen) between 1820-1841, before settling in Woodside where he worked at the mills as a weaver. Gowans senior met and married his mother, Mary Taylor, while stationed at Fort Pitt, Chatham, where Mary's father had served with the 11th Light Dragoons during the Napoleonic Wars. Gowans lived with his father, mother, maternal aunt and younger brother in Woodside until the early 1850s, when the family moved to St. Pauls Street. Following the death of his mother in 1856, the family lived at 36 Castle Street and at 70 Loch Street. By the age of 13, Gowans was studying art at the Mechanics Institution, winning a prize in the first (elementary) grade in 1857. He won a free studentship in 1871 as a result of work submitted to the National competition, and he was awarded the silver medal in the National competition in 1879, the year he successfully passed all the examinations in the first group of subjects for a third grade, or Art Master's certificate. Gowans studied in Aberdeen, London, and Paris at the Academie Julian under Bougereau and at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, including artistic anatomy with Matthias Duval. He achieved success as a working artist and art instructor from the start. He painted both in oil and watercolour as well as in pastels, pencil, and ink. Although noted for his landscapes, he also produced portraits of family, friends, colleagues, and local notables. His paintings featured regularly in the Royal Scottish Academy's summer exhibitions, as well as at those of the Royal Glasgow Institute, the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour and the Aberdeen Artists' Society. He also exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and in the major London galleries. One of his watercolours, the Muir of Dinnet now at the Aberdeen Art Gallery, was exhibited at both the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition in London and at the 1911 International Exhibition in Rome. Aside from his painting and etching he had an active life in his younger years. He was an enthusiastic member of the Old Volunteers, and he was an active climber and an expert in fencing. His interest in music extended to playing the violin and organ.