Papers of Pittendrigh MacGillivray, 1856-1938, sculptor and poet

Scope and Content

Volume of letters to and from Pittendrigh MacGillivray and volume of lectures on Scottish Clan Tartans 1906

Administrative / Biographical History

James Pittendrigh MacGillivray was a Sculptor, born in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, in  1856 . He was the son of a local sculptor, William MacGillivray, and was educated in Edinburgh. He had no specific art training in schools whose system of education he always condemned. In  1872  he became studio assistant to  William Brodie, remaining with him for six years; then, around  1880 , he spent two years in the studio of  John Mossman and was later apprenticed to  James Steel in Glasgow. He carried out most of the classical decorations for the theatre later known as the Metropole. He returned to Edinburgh in  1894  and carried out many portrait busts, monuments and statues, becoming a regular exhibitor at the Royal Scottish Academy where he was elected an Associate in 1892 and the Royal Scottish Academy in  1901 . He also designed his own studio which later turned into a place of pilgrimage for those devoted to art, culture and learning.He is best known for his statue of Robert Burns at Irvine, and of Thomas Carlyle and the figure of 'Historia' for the Gladstone Memorial in Edinburgh.

He graduated with the degree of LLD in  1909  and, in 1921, he was appointed King's Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland. Some of the works that he produced during his lifetime include: the statues of the Marquis of Bute at Cardiff, Lord Byron at Aberdeen and the bronze of John Knox at St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh. His magnum opus and first large scale achievement was the Gladstone Memorial. Pittendrigh retained a deep sense of his own Scottish heritage, and his knowledge of tartans, of which he made a special study and accumulated a remarkable collection, was second to none. He spent a lot of time writing poetry and left a number of published works, some of the publications themselves being masterpieces of typography which are now collectors' pieces. He died in  1938 .


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

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Acquisition Information

Purchased from McNaughton's, 1987


Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at the University of Glasgow Library, Department of Special Collections website, searching by the call number MS Gen 1607-1608.

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Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

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Additional Information

Fonds level description compiled by Andrew Thomson, Hub Project Archivist, 18 May 2005