- 1896-1901 (Creation)
Level of description
Content and Structure
Scope and content
Collection of testimonials written in support of James A Dron, a former student of Glasgow School of Art.
- testimonials written by Francis H Newbery, Director of Glasgow School of Art, 1885-1918
- Robert L Sutherland, Head Master of Gorbals Art Class
- and Allan Gillespie, Secretary of Bonnybridge Art Classes.
The collection also includes a letter of application written by Dron for the post of Painting and Still-Life Master at Belfast School of Art in 1901 plus accompanying correspondence.
Please note that this material is not yet fully catalogued and therefore some items may not be accessible to researchers.
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.
System of arrangement
Name of creator
Francis Henry Newbery, known as Fra. Newbery, was the Headmaster and Director of the Glasgow School of Art from 1885 to 1918. During that time the profile of the School was raised from that of a moderately successful institution to one an international reputation.
Newbery was born on 15 May 1855 in Membury, East Devon. He grew up in Dorset and studied as an Art Master in Bridport, before moving to London in 1875 to continue working as an Art Master there. In 1877 he started attending the National Art Training School at South Kensington where he was taught by Edward Poynter and other artists of the time. By 1885 he had taught in most of the School's classes and, at the age of 30, was appointed to the post of Headmaster of Glasgow School of Art.
His success at Glasgow School of Art was led by the acclaim and notoriety surrounding the work of designers and artists such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Margaret Macdonald, Frances Macdonald, Herbert McNair, Jessie M. King and others working in the 1890s in Glasgow. It was most highly acclaimed at the Turin Exhibition of Decorative Art, 1902. Much of this success was due to Newbery who selected the work and chose Mackintosh to design the rooms for its display. For this work Newbery was awarded an Italian knighthood.
Newbery oversaw the erection of the new School building at 167 Renfrew Street. He had drawn up the brief, based on his own personal experience and the demanding Department of Science and Art specifications, and he appreciated Mackintosh's design for its practical interpretation. In favouring Mackintosh's plans, he was supported by the Governors of Glasgow School of Art and the official Department of Science and Art advisors.
Under the Scottish Education Department in 1901, Newbery devised his own curriculum which led to the award of a Diploma. The course was divided into four stages, which did not necessarily correspond to years - students were moved through at their own pace, some taking seven or eight years and others only three. Many were not ever awarded the Diploma.
Staff brought in by Newbery to teach at the School included, among others, the Belgian Symbolist painter Jean Delville, the English portraitist, Maurice Greiffenhagen, the French Adolphe Giraldon, the English Decorative artists W.E.F. Britten and Robert Anning Bell and, as Head of Architecture, the French architect Eugene Bourdon. There was also a strong core of Glasgow School of Art trained teachers including Jessie Newbery, Anne Macbeth, Dorothy Carleton Smyth, Olive Carleton Smyth, Allan D. Mainds, James Gray and de Courcy Lewthwaite Dewar.
Newbery inaugurated many schemes at the School including the Glasgow School of Art Club and the Artist Teachers' Exhibition Society, both of which encouraged exhibitions and competition within the School, and allowed present and former staff and students to meet. He invited leading figures in the art and design worlds to lecture at the School including Walter Crane, C.F.A. Voysey, William Morris and Lewis F. Day. He established good contacts with Glasgow University so that the students received lectures in anatomy, art history, philosophy and literature, beyond those available within the School.
Newbery exhibited with the Glasgow Boys, and had close ties to John Lavery, James Guthrie and E.A. Walton. His paintings were exhibited world-wide and he was particularly successful in Italy. From 1890, most of his holidays were spent in Walberswick, Suffolk, often in the company of other Scottish artists, such as Mackintosh and the young W.O. Hutchison.
In 1918 he was granted early retirement on medical grounds, and moved to Corfe Castle, Dorset where he continued to paint, mainly in the field of public art. He died at the age of ninety-one on 18 December 1946. Jessie Newbery died sixteen months later.
Name of creator
James A Dron (born 3 December 1862) was a student at Glasgow School of Art for three separate periods: from 1887 to 1891; from 1895 to 1901 and from 1914 to 1917. An Andrew Dron, presumed to be his brother, also attended from 1982-83 to 1883-84 and also 1890-91. James A Dron was first admitted in January 1887 when he was 24 years old. His address was St George’s Road in Glasgow and his occupation was given as Clerk. He returned in 1887-88, and also in 1888-89 when his address changed to 27 Carnarvon Street and his occupation changed to Draughtsman. In 1889-90 he won a Bronze medal for a still life painting in oil colours and the National Queen’s Prize for Chalk Drawings of Figures from Antique. In the Annual Report (published February 1891) in the reports of the Examiners for the Painting from Still Life, the examiners G.D. Leslie R.A. and W.F Yeames, R.A. wrote: “TONE STUDIES.- The study of James A. Dron, of Glasgow, for which a bronze medal is given, is all together well painted, but the portrait on the right-hand side is too obtrusive. The Examiners regard it as a very faithful piece of tone study, the spectroscopic effect being obtained more by truth of tones than perspective of lines.” Also in 1889-90 he received a free studentship - these were awarded for excellence in work and in examinations. He won seven shillings and sixpence for second prize in Antique Life and Still Life work, and 15 shillings first prize for Best Still Life in Oil. In 1890-91 he again received a free studentship and won first prize (ten shillings) for Best Set of Antique Detail. He returned in 1891-92 - when he is still described as a draughtsman - for what was his last year at The Glasgow School of Art at this point. He was one of the signatories to a request that the Corporation of Glasgow purchase Whistler’s ‘Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 2: Portrait of Thomas Carlyle’. You can see more details about this on the Correspondence of James McNeil Whistler website https://www.whistler.arts.gla.ac.uk/correspondence/people/biog/?bid=Dron_JA&initial=. He exhibited at the Royal Glasgow Institute of Fine Arts from 1890 to 1923 and became a member of Paisley Institute in 1892. In 1895-96 James A Dron came back to work towards the Art Class Teacher’s Certificate and Art Master’s Certificate. At this point he was described as a teacher, and was living in Firhill Road in Glasgow. In 1896-97 he continued to enter work for the Art Class Teacher’s Certificate and Art Master’s Certificate and also won first prize (7 shillings) in Design, Plant Outline. The Annual Report published in January 1898 reports that he found a position as an Art Master in 1896-97. “The practical nature of the school training may be gathered from a note of the following appointments made during last session, through the agency of the school: - James A Dron, Drawing and Painting Master, Mount Florida School, Cathcart School Board.” He enrolled for the year 1897-98, 1898-99 and 1899-1900. He now lived in Randolph Place, Mount Florida, and his occupation was art teacher. We do not know exactly which classes he enrolled for but he is recorded as being examined for subjects such as Painting from Still Life, Drawing the Antique from Memory, Modelling from Life, and Modelling from the Antique. He was awarded an Art Master's Certificate Group 1 and 1st class Certificates for Life, Antique, Anatomy and Painting. In the Annual Report published in April 1900 is was reported that in the previous year (1898-99) published in February 1901, “The Following appointments were made during the last session at the agency of the school – Mr James A Dron to be Art Master in the Bonnybridge Art Class.” In 1899-1900 he was appointed as Art Master at the Mount Florida Art Class. He additionally took on the role of Second Master of Gorbals Evening Art Classes and taught private and sketching classes for ladies. The Glasgow School of Art Collections and Archives has a collection of testimonials written in support of James Dron for employment in different positions: https://gsaarchives.net/collections/index.php/dc-081. He acted as Secretary and Treasurer for the Artist Teacher's Exhibition Society. The Artist Teachers' Exhibition Society was established c1910-1911 in Glasgow, and was open to all who were artist teachers, with its objective being to maintain a high standard of personal work on the part of its members. You can see records from the Society in The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections online catalogue: https://gsaarchives.net/collections/index.php/artist-teachers-exhibition-society. In 1914 James A Dron began his third period of time at The Glasgow School of Art when he came for evening classes in etching. He was an Art Master but by this time was living at Armorica, in Giffnock in Glasgow. Armorel Dron, born 21 April 1903, from the same address and presumed to be his daughter, attended the Glasgow School of Art for Drawing and Painting day classes from 1921-22 to 1925-26. In 1929 James A Dron exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy showing a painting called ‘The North Transept. The Gloucester Cathedral’. If you have any more information, please get in touch.
He exhibited at Scottish exhibitions from 1892 onwards and became a member of Paisley Institute in 1892. He was employed as an Art Teacher of Bonnybridge Art Classes; as Visiting Teacher of Drawing and Painting at Mount Florida Public School; as Second Master of Gorbals Evening Art Classes and also taught private and sketching classes for ladies.
Dron acted as Secretary and Treasurer for the Artist Teacher's Exhibition Society (the Artist Teachers' Exhibition Society was established c1910-1911 in Glasgow, and was open to all who were artist teachers, with its objective being to maintain a high standard of personal work on the part of its members).
Name of creator
Secretary of Bonnybridge Art Classes.
Name of creator
Headmaster of Gorbals Art Class.
Donated by Dr Charles Ludlow, January 2013.
Physical Description and Conditions of Use
Conditions governing access
Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections are open for research by appointment. For further details, please refer to our Access Policy @ https://gsaarchives.net/policies
Conditions governing reproduction
Application for permission to reproduce should be submitted to The Archives and Collections at The Glasgow School of Art.
Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of material.
For further details, please refer to our Reprographic Service Guide @ https://gsaarchives.net/policies
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Typescript and handwritten documents and 1 photograph.
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Place access points
People and Organisations
- The Glasgow School of Art (Subject)
Genre access points
Level of detail
- Catalogued by Michelle Kaye, Archives and Collections Assistant, 13th February 2013.
- Archives Hub description updated by Michelle Kaye, Archives and Collections Assistant, March 2013.
- Catalogue imported into Archon software and edited by Michelle Kaye, Archon Project Officer, May 2014.
- Catalogue exported from Archon and imported into AtoM during system migration, 2018-2019.
Finding Aid Authors: The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections.
© Copyright 2014 GSA Archives. All rights reserved.