Robin Philipson


Hardback, 224pp
ISBN: 978-1-908326-93-5


Publication October 2018
Order will be fulfilled upon publication


Elizabeth Cumming

  • Major reassessment of the life and art of a painter at the heart of the Scottish art establishment
  • Provides for the first time a complete account of the artist’s career including work in education and involvement in printmaking, textiles and public art
  • Generously illustrated throughout
  • Draws on a number of previously unavailable archives

In the third quarter of the twentieth century Sir Robin Philipson (1916-92) ranked as one of the best known and prolific artists of what became known as the Edinburgh School. He spent his working life as an art school teacher, heading the Drawing and Painting School at Edinburgh College of Art for over twenty years, and he served as Secretary, then as President, of the Royal Scottish Academy. This new study discusses his double commitment to traditional teaching practice and to the wider encouragement of art across society. Robin Philipson was always fascinated by colour, material and process, and this new study, while exploring a long, active career in painting and printmaking, also sheds light on his involvement with a Borders textile company and the international Dovecot Studios.

Philipson was highly ambitious for his own art. He engaged with the drama of human experience in his painting, and worked on specific themes such as cockfights and war imagery with a keen, raw expressionism. Two particular series, Threnody and Humankind, were key to his paintings of the mid  to late 1960s and 1970s.  Later, his painting achieved a remarkable lyricism in a series of large, bold paintings of poppies which today have almost become his trademark.

The author

Writer and curator Dr Elizabeth Cumming is an Honorary Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. A former Keeper of the Edinburgh City Art Centre and lecturer in design history at Edinburgh College of Art, her many books and articles have focused on Scottish art and design and the Arts and Crafts movement.