Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Brough, Robert
BROUGH, ROBERT (1872–1905), painter, born at Invergordon, Ross-shire, in 1872, was educated at Aberdeen. There he was apprenticed to Andrew Gibb, engraver and lithographer, with whom Sir George Reid, president of the Royal Scottish Academy, also began his artistic career. Brough studied at the Aberdeen Art School, and at the close of his apprenticeship he removed to Edinburgh, pursuing his art education there. He entered the Royal Scottish Academy life-school in 1891, and distinguished himself as a student, gaining the Chalmers bursary and the Maclaine-Waters medal and other prizes. From Edinburgh he went to Paris, continuing his studies under Jullien and Constant, and attracting much notice by his vigorous style. Returning to Aberdeen in 1894, he began practice there as a portrait painter, contributing also lithographic pictures to the local illustrated journals, 'The Scottish Figaro' and 'Bon-Accord.' His first notable picture was the portrait of Mr. W. D. Rosy of Aberdeen (afterwards editor of 'Black and White,' London), which was painted in 1893, and was presented in 1907 to the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh. In 1897 Brough moved to London, taking a studio in Tite Street, Chelsea, where he became the friend and protege of Mr. John Singer Sargent, R.A., exhibiting regularly at the Royal Academy, the New Gallery the Royal Scottish Academy, and the International Society Exhibitions. In December 1904 he was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy, but his brilliant and promising career was suddenly terminated before he painted his diploma picture. He had been painting the portraits of the daughter-in-law and grandson of Sir Charles Tennant of The Glen, Peeblesshire, and was on the return journey to London when he was fatally injured in a railway accident at Storrs Mill, near Cudworth Junction, between Leeds and Sheffield, on 20 Jan. 1905. He died unmarried in Sheffield Hospital next day, and was buried at Old Machar, Aberdeenshire.
Brough gave promise of becoming one of the most notable of Scottish portrait-painters. His style was both powerful and original, uniting simplicity with breadth of treatment. While his study at Paris had served to develop his style, he retained his originality, and his portraits are remarkable alike for their richness of colour and virility of draughtsmanship. Among his most notable portraits are 'Miss Julie Opp, actress'; 'The Viscountess Encombe' (1898); 'Master Philip Fleming' (a work which attracted attention at the New Gallery in 1900); 'Surgeon-Colonel Gallway, C.B.'; Mrs. Milne of Kinaldie' and 'Richard Myddleton of Chirk Castle' (1901); 'Rev. James Geddie'; 'Sir Herbert Maxwell, Bart.' (1902); 'The Marquess of Linlithgow'; 'Dr. Alexander Ogilvie' (headmaster of Gordon's College, which is in the permanent collection at Aberdeen), and the portrait-group of 'Sir Charles Tennant's family,' which was his last work. His fanciful picture entitled 'Fantasie en Folie,' shown at the Royal Academy in 1897, won a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1900. He is represented in the Royal Scottish Academy by the portrait of Mr. W. D. Ross.
[Scotsman, 23 Jan. 1905; Cat. of Nat. Gall. of Scotland, 42nd edit.; Dundee Advertiser, 23 Jan. 1905; private information.]