"the friendliest club in town....come along for a visit..."
A haven in the heart of the city for those interested in all areas of the arts
The Scottish Artists’ Club, as originally named, was founded in 1873 by a group of artists and sculptors, including Sir John Steell, Sculptor to Queen Victoria, and Sir George Harvey, President of the Royal Scottish Academy. For twenty years they met in a series of premises around the West End of Edinburgh, including George Street, Castle Street and Queen Street. In 1894, the building at 24 Rutland Square was purchased as a meeting place for men involved in all arts disciplines and Lay Members (those not professionally engaged in the arts) were welcomed. To reflect the widening of membership, the Club was renamed the Scottish Arts Club. The full purchase price of the property was £2100 and Members took out a loan of £1600, which was eventually repaid from the proceeds of sales of their works.
Among the first Lay Members admitted in 1894 were Sir Patrick Geddes, a prominent biologist, sociologist and influential town planner; Frederick Niecks, Professor of Music; and David Masson, Professor of English Literature. Although discussions took place at that time concerning the admittance of women as Members of the Club, it was not until 1982 that they were eventually able to join, following contentious debate. In 1998, Mollie Marcellino became the first Lady President of the Club.
A booklet on the Scottish Arts Club that was produced in 1894 stated, 'The dignity and moral responsibility of Art in all its forms may stimulate many to strong effect, and some to great achievements'. Indeed, the Club includes many luminaries among its former and current Members. Former Members include fine artists Sir Joseph Noel Paton, William Mctaggart, Stanley Cursiter and Robin Philipson; sculptors C D’O Pilkington Jackson, Alexander Carrick, Andrew Dods, Hew Lorimer, Benno Schotz and Norman Forrest; photographers Edward Drummond Young, George Balmain and Paul Shillabeer; architects Robert Lorimer and Sir Basil Spence; writers George Gregory Smith, George Saintsbury, Sir Compton Mackenzie, George Scott Moncrieff, Eric Linklater, Nigel Tranter and Tom Fleming; and poets Edwin Muir, Norman MacCaig, Sydney Goodsir Smith and Hugh MacDairmid; among many others. Authors Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin, architect Professor Andrew Merrylees and composer John McLeod are among eminent current Members.
The Scottish Arts Club has long been affiliated with several London clubs and more than 30 others in the UK and abroad. Members may access full information through the Member's Pages.