A Picture of Success

Let’s finish our tour with a look at an artist doing well for himself. You are standing where roughly numbers 9-13 Bruce Street were located in the middle of the 1800s. The street numbers changed during the century.

Andrew Blair is shown living at 11 Bruce Street in the Valuation Rolls from 1865 to 1883. In that time he went from tenant of the house and shop to owner of numbers 9, 11 and 13. He occupied 11 as a house, 9 was his shop and cellar and the remaining properties were rented out to other shops and tenants.

You can see his most famous work, Dunfermline Demonstrations in the nearby Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum. It was commissioned by Andrew Carnegie and was a joint work with William Geddes of Blairgowrie.

It depicts the celebrations in Dunfermline on 27th July 1881 when Carnegie and his mother, Margaret, returned to their home town and laid the foundation stone of the public library. It was to be the first of over 2,800 libraries Carnegie built throughout the UK, USA and Commonwealth.

Photograph from 2020 with photographer stood on junction Bruce Street and Bridge Street looking up the High Street. Trying to capture High Street, corner of City Chambers building, Kirkgate.
Dunfermline Demonstrations 21st Century
Was this the spot Blair put up his easel to paint The Dunfermline Demonstrations?

Head down to the bottom of Bruce Street. Dunfermline Demonstrations was painted looking from somewhere near here. It was a Wednesday and the factories closed at 1pm – it looks like the whole town turned out to say thank you and get a glimpse of former residents Carnegie and his mother.

You can get a closer look at Mrs Carnegie by visiting the Community Gallery in Dunfermline Carnegie Library & Galleries. In the former entrance lobby, there is a carved bust of Margaret, possibly by Amelia Robertson Hill, a local artist whom you can discover more about on an Edinburgh trail.

Geddes painted the procession and people while Blair’s skill was landscapes, sky and buildings. When you visit the painting see if you can spot the two people who are not happy about the library. Claiming it would cost the town more money, two councillors have their backs to the procession – although Carnegie seems to have been happy to have them included!

Blair was one of the founding committee members of the Dunfermline Fine Art Society in 1883. Now known as Dunfermline Art Club and still going strong they have annual exhibitions in the Kingsgate Centre to share their work.

We hope you enjoyed our tour of Bruce Street. Why not discover more Dunfermline walks here? We’d love to hear your feedback too – you can find us @GoDunfermline on Facebook and X, or share your comments with #GoDunfermline.