Robert Eadie (1877-1954) was the second youngest of five brothers. His parents, Mary and John Eadie, also had two daughters. The family lived in Glasgow and the boys did not have a happy time at home. Oral family history passed on by William, the third son, to his daughter, Marion, was that the boys had a step-mother, who was something of a tyrant, and the older boys left home as soon as they were old enough to become independent. James, the oldest son, went to the United States (New Hampshire) and John, a designer at the carpet manufacturer James Templeton, set up a home and a family of his own in Glasgow and worked at Templeton's for almost 75 years!
William looked after his younger brother, Robert, stood up for him against the tyrant stepmother, and helped him with his education and training when Robert showed signs of artistic ability. Robert enjoyed the benefits of the then excellent Scottish education system, and he studied further in Paris and Munich. William eventually followed his older brother to America, arriving in San Francisco on the day after the 1906 earthquake!
Moving into the realm of established fact, a family tree compiled by Irena Henderson shows that Mary Eadie (neé Rowland) lived until 1910, by which time William (1873-1950) was 37 and he was working in Springfield, Mass., where he was initiated into the Hampden Lodge of freemasons in May of that year, and Robert was 33 and established as an artist. Which suggests that the boys did not get on with their mother rather than an oppressive step-mother.
William returned to Scotland in 1914 after the war with Germany broke out but he was deemed too old for military service. He married Jenny Fisher (1884-1956) the following year and his brother Robert is listed among the witnesses on the marriage certificate. Come the depression of the 1930s, William, an instrument-maker, lost both his job and the savings which he had left in an American bank, which went bust, and he felt that his earlier generosity to his younger brother not repaid when he and his family went through hard times something which, in later life, Robert acknowledged and regretted.
Robert married Isabelle Robertson from Edinburgh, a city whose residents generally see themselves as being a cut above Glaswegians although, to do Belle justice, she always remained on friendly terms with her Glasgow in-laws. The couple lived in Glasgow for a time, then moved to Cambuslang, the 'largest (and poshest) village in Scotland', on the outskirts of the city.
On the subject of Belle Eadie, Diarmid Gibson wrote:
“Bella was my wife's great aunt. There is just a quibble with the biographical depiction of Bella. She was in fact more Irish than Scottish and more Glaswegian than Edinburgh. Her family only moved from Glenarm to Glasgow in the 1890s and did not move to Edinburgh until at least 1911 , although Bella and her widowed father lived in Larbert probably from 1908 to at least 1911. So it would have been hard for Bella to have acquired ‘Edinburgh airs’. By the way they were married by Bella's brother-in-law.”
Robert Eadie had a fine tenor voice a natural rather than a trained talent and, with his niece Mary (the daughter of Agnes and John Eadie) on piano, he was encouraged to perform "Come Into The Garden, Maude" and similar songs at family gatherings. But his major gift lay in the field of fine art.
He established himself as a successful professional painter & engraver and book illustrator. He is known for elegant portraits, which are full of details of the period; his street scenes featuring views of Glasgow and Edinburgh (and also other major Scottish cities); his landscapes and his beach scenes. He also received commissions from Glasgow theatre owners. A trip to Rhodesia to visit relatives on his wife's side of the family inspired further landscape paintings and portraits.
In addition to work from theatre owners, Robert Eadie received at least one commission from a Glasgow restaurant. Eoin Mackenzie, who trained as a designer at the James Templeton carpet factory in the 1950s while John Eadie, M.B.E., was still working there, recalls owning a menu from the Rogano restaurant in Glasgow. The front cover was a print of a watercolour painting of the Art Deco building as viewed from Royal Exchange Place.
Robert Eadie painted with both oils and watercolours, and he created detailed pencil drawings which he embellished with watercolour washes. He was a member of the Glasgow Society of Painter-Etchers and he was elected to membership of the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour (R.S.W.) in 1917. He also joined Glasgow Art Club and served 3 terms as Artist Vice-President [1931/1932, 1932/1933 & 1943/1944] and 2 as President [1933/1934 & 1934/1935]. His work was exhibited at the Royal Academy, the Royal Scottish Academy, the R.S.W., the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts and Aberdeen Artists' Society.
Robert Eadie's work has survived the test of time, it is still sought after and changing hands for respectable prices at auctions in the 21st century, and it is treasured by owners from Australia to Zimbabwe. Examples of his work are to be found in the Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow; Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum, Glasgow; Paisley Art Gallery; the City of Edinburgh Art Gallery; and the Glasgow Art Club, as well as private collections.
Elizabeth Pierce, who knew Robert Eadie when she was a child, wrote:
“Robert Eadie used to come and visit my grandparents Peter Mitchell and Barbara (nee Anderson) in their bungalow at 8 Iain Road, Bearsden. When I visited him and his wife, Belle, in their Glasgow flat, he would often let me stay with him in his studio while he painted, and, during these sessions, he would recite Scottish poetry and sing Scottish and Gaelic songs. He was a great friend, very good with children, and, in my opinion, a truly gifted painter.”
Later, Elizabeth provided a photograph of the artist with her grandfather, Peter Mitchell, and her uncle, Donald Mitchell, one of Peter's three offspring.
(l. to r. Peter Mitchell, Bella Eadie, Donald Mitchell, Robert Eadie
When she sent the photo, Elizabeth added:
“The photo, needless to say, is taken many years before the time that my sister and I knew Robert Eadie. Mr Eadie was a friend of the family over a period of so many years that my sister and I have wondered whether they were related, perhaps through Bella. I believe Bella came originally from Glasgow, as did our grandmother Barbara (nee Anderson). I may be quite wrong about this, but, if not, someone reading your page might recognise the details I've added and be able to get in touch. I realise it's a long shot, as they say.”
If anyone does wish to contact her with information, please use the contact email address at the foot of the page. P.H.T.