Wednesday, 4 December 2013

On This Day In Orkney, In 1947...

Stanley Cursitor received a letter:

Stanley Cursiter was born in Kirkwall in 1887 and died in Stromness in 1976. He was educated at Kirkwall Grammar School and Edinburgh College of Art.

He served in the First World War with the Scottish Rifles and the Fourth Field Survey Battalion where he helped to revolutionise the preparation and printing of field maps. He was awarded a military O.B.E.(see above) and was twice mentioned in dispatches.

He quickly became known as a painter of landscapes, particularly of his native Orkney. Stanley Cursiter was Keeper of the National Galleries of Scotland and later Director from 1930 - 1948. In the latter year he was appointed Her Majesty's Painter and Limner in Scotland.

On his retiral from the Galleries, he made his home in Orkney, but soon found himself engaged in a new career of portrait painting and during the next fifteen years he painted many notable people.
Among important professional tasks which he performed was the painting of the picture showing H.M. Queen receiving the Honours of Scotland in St. Giles Cathedral. This picture now hangs in Holyrood House.

He served on a number of national bodies concerned with the fine arts. He was the first secretary of the Royal Fine Arts Commission in Scotland and for some time Secretary of the Royal Scottish Academy. He was President of the Society of Scottish Artists and President of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. He was also a member of the Council of the Royal Society in Edinburgh.

As a painter, he is represented in several permanent and many private collections. He published in 1946, under the title "Peploe", a biographical study of his friend and contemporary S.J. Peploe, and in 1948, a book on Scottish Art.

His writings, ranging from observations on the arts to stories of Orkney life appeared in various newspapers and magazines.

For his many services to Kirkwall he was given the Freedom of the City and Royal Burgh; he was a deputy Lieutenant of Orkney. He designed the gold chain of office worn by the Provosts in the latter years of Kirkwall Town Council. (The chain is presently on show in Orkney Islands Council Offices).

St. Magnus Cathedral was always a source of inspiration to him and was the subject of many of his paintings. He gave advice which resulted in the saving of the building from structural collapse and made many appeals on its behalf. He suggested the setting up of St. Rognvald's Chapel and designed the furnishings.

Description prepared by Alan Borthwick, Scottish Archive Network project

OBE letter Orkney Archive Reference D26/6/1 and photographs from the Orkney Photographic Archive.

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