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John Stirling

(1828-1874), Painter

Sitter in 1 portrait

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John Stirling, by George Washington Wilson - NPG Ax14928

John Stirling

by George Washington Wilson
albumen carte-de-visite, 1860s
NPG Ax14928


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Roger Fleischman, MD, PhD

04 May 2016, 14:01

As reported by the British Consulate, Stirling died on May 16 ,1874 in Tangier, Morocco.

Roger Fleischman, MD, PhD

05 March 2016, 17:56

John Stirling was born June 23, 1828 in Peterculter, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, the oldest child of Rev. John Stirling (1785 - Oct 5, 1839) and Hannah Fowler (1797 - Dec 4, 1862). Following the early death of his father, the young artist can be found at age 22 listed in the 1851 Scottish Census as an "artist-painter" and similarly in an 1853 Aberdeen city directory as an artist living at 5 Broadford bank, Kingsland-place, the same address used to submit his first paintings to the Royal Academy. Over the next several years in Aberdeen, he continues to list himself as an artist often at same address as his mother Helen.
Stirling began as a genre painter of portraits and subjects from literature. He first exhibited paintings at the Royal Academy in 1852 and achieved some success and attention after John Ruskin praised his “Scottish Presbyterians in a country parish church - the sermon,” in 1855. An engraving of this work was reproduced in an issue of the London Illustrated News that year and a glowing review of the painting can be found in The Spectator on June 2, 1855. He continued to exhibit paintings at the Royal Academy almost yearly over two decades.
Beginning in 1854, he provides a Hyde Park address for his annual submissions to the Royal Academy, but yearly listings in Aberdeen also continue until about 1861, suggesting that he divided his time between the two cities. After 1861, however, his name no longer appears in the Aberdeen directories. He is found in the 1861 English census for St. Marylebone as John Stirling, b 1829 in Scotland, age 32, unmarried, artist-painter at Langham Place, the address used for the Royal Academy exhibits beginning in 1861. His mother's death in 1862 may have resulted in a permanent move to London.
Stirling spent the winter of 1868 to 1869 in Tangier, Morocco and exhibited several Moroccan scenes at Royal Academy over the following two years. Based on his experiences in Morocco, he presented the paper "The Races of Morocco," which was published in the Journal of the Anthropological Society of London. After 1870-71, Mr. Stirling is thought to have died suddenly while abroad although specific documentation is lacking. His last painting was shown at the Royal Academy was in 1871. One report suggests he was still alive in 1872 in Tangier and engaged upon a picture of The Court of the Sultan of Morocco.

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