The Glasgow Dilettanti Society


The Glasgow Dilettanti Society was founded in 1825, “to improve the taste for,  and advance the knowledge of the Fine Arts”, and membership was limited to “Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Etchers, or men possessing taste and critical knowledge in one or other of those branches of art.” It evolved from the occasional meeting of Andrew Henderson (1783-1835) a portrait painter, Dr. William Young (d. 1837), and James Davie (fl. 1820-43).

The Society’s first minuted meeting was held on the 7th of February 1825. Andrew Henderson was elected President, and Joseph Swan, the engraver and publisher, was appointed Librarian. Archibald McLellan, the coachbuilder and art collector, and David Hamilton, the architect were among those who joined in the first year.

Members met monthly, and could either read essays on the fine arts, or show paintings, drawings, prints and books in their possession. In 1826, Archibald McLellan chose a selection of prints from his collection. Joseph Swan displayed drawings which he was about to engrave and publish for his Select Views of Glasgow.



For further information, see: George Fairfull-Smith, ‘The Glasgow Dilettanti Society’, Journal of the Scottish Society for Art History, Patronage & Collecting, Volume 3, 1998, pages 6-15; and The Wealth of a City: A ‘Glance’ at the Fine Arts in Glasgow Volume One: 1641-1830, 2010.