Scottish artist Robert MacBryde (1913–1966) was a still-life, figure painter and a theatre set designer. Born in Maybole, MacBryde worked in a factory for 5 years after leaving school until he enrolled at the Glasgow School of Art from 1932-1937. There, he met Robert Colquhoun with whom he established a lifelong relationship and professional collaboration. The pair were known as “The Two Roberts“. After graduation in 1937 MacBryde spent two years studying in France and Italy and returned to London in 1939. Together with Colquhoun, John Minton and Jankel Adler they shared accommodation and the occasional studio space.
MacBryde held his first one-person exhibition at the Lefevre Gallery (1943). He had many influences such as the artists, Graham Sutherland and John Piper; the Modernist School of Art, (with brightly coloured Cubist studies); and a darker, Expressionist range of still life and landscape. However, it was during WWII, where in collaboration with Colquhoun, MacBryde created several set designs for:
- Gielgud’s Macbeth,
- King Lear at Stratford; and
- Massine’s Scottish ballet Donald of the Burthens, produced by the Sadler’s Wells Ballet at Covent Garden (1951).
During the 1950s, both MacBryde and Colquhoun became heavy drinkers, and Colquhoun died suddenly in 1962. Shortly after his death, MacBryde moved to Ireland, and for a time shared a house with the author Patrick Kavanagh, with whom he been acquainted with previously in London. Sadly, Robert MacBryde died in 1966 in Dublin as a result of a street accident.
Picture featured above is “In a Red Room” (1950) oil. – Arts Council of Great Britain