Surgeon and Painter..
24 February 2020
The 24th February was a special meeting, as we welcomed friends who had supported us in making our Christmas postal delivery service possible. The better part of 11,000 cards were sorted and delivered up and down the coastal villages from Elie to Crail, with £2,628 raised for charities and good causes. It was a pleasure to be able to thank everyone, as we enjoyed an excellent buffet meal prepared by The Rockies restaurant. A ‘thank you’ also to Anstruther Golf Club for allowing us to take over their members’ lounge.
Following our meal, guest speaker was Mr Glenn Jones, whose talk was ‘The Surgeon and the Painter’. This turned out to be a deeply researched and illustrated talk about the highly regarded 19th century surgeon Thomas Black of Anstruther - and the equally well regarded artist Robert Fowler of Cellardyke.
But this talk was far more. It explored family and business relationships, brought in the anatomist Dr John Goodsir FRS, sailing ships and voyages to the Arctic.
We heard that Thomas Black (1819-1864) sailed to Greenland twice as a surgeon on whaling ships before setting up in his profession in the East Neuk burgh in 1839. Tragically however, in the early hours of February 29, 1864, he died after falling into mud and silt in Anstruther harbour on his way home, in the dark, after visiting a patient.
Robert Fowler (1853–1926) was a Scottish artist who painted mythological scenes and landscapes. He largely worked in Liverpool, but was born in Cellardyke and baptised in Kilrenny Church in May 1850. He painted the portrait of Thomas Black (apparently painted posthumously) which now hangs in Anstruther Town Hall. It was interesting to learn that Robert Fowler, like so many eminent Artists was strongly influenced by Japanese art in his later career.
This was altogether a fascinating talk with many threads of profession and family intertwining people and places.
A vote of thanks was proposed by club president Findlay McLaren.