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Crawford, William (1825-1869) (DNB00)

CRAWFORD, WILLIAM (1825–1869), painter, the second son of Archibald Crawford, the author of ‘Bonnie Mary Hay,’ and other popular lyrics, was born at Ayr in 1825. Evincing in boyhood a taste for artistic pursuits, he was at an early age sent to Edinburgh to study under Sir William Allan at the Trustees' Academy, where his success in copying one of Etty's great pictures secured for him a travelling bursary, by means of which he was enabled to visit Rome and study there for two or three years. While in Rome he contributed occasional papers and criticisms to some Edinburgh newspapers. On his return he settled down to the practice of his profession in Edinburgh, where he found an influential patron in Lord Meadowbank, and for several years he was engaged as a teacher of drawing at the Royal Institution until the School of Design became associated with the Science and Art Department. He was an indefatigable worker, and was almost invariably represented in the annual exhibitions of the Royal Scottish Academy by the largest number of works that any single artist was allowed to send. Among his contributions were various sacred subjects, and a considerable number of genre pictures, which were most successful when dealing with female characters. Many of them were bought by the Royal Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland. But Crawford achieved his greatest success with his portraits in crayons, especially those of children and young ladies, which were executed with a grace and felicity of style that rendered them perfect in their way, and caused them to be much sought after. He exhibited portraits at the Royal Academy in London also between 1852 and 1868. He was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1860, and died suddenly in Edinburgh 1 Aug. 1869. His wife also has been a contributor to the exhibitions of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Among Crawford's best works are his ‘May Queen’ and ‘May Morning,’ ‘The Return from Maying,’ 1861, ‘Waiting at the Ferry,’ 1865, ‘A Highland Keeper's Daughter’ and ‘More Free than Welcome,’ 1867, ‘The Wishing Pool,’ and ‘Too Late’—a beautiful young girl arriving at a garden gate ‘too late’ to prevent a duel between two rival lovers, one of whom lies dead near the gateway—exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1869.

[Scotsman, 3 Aug. 1869, reprinted in the Register and Magazine of Biography, 1869, ii. 146; Art Journal, 1869, p. 272; Catalogues of the Exhibition of the Royal Scottish Academy; Catalogues of the Exhibition of the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1852–68.]

R. E. G.