Sir Robin Philipson was a Lancashire-born painter who was influential within the Scottish art scene for over three decades.
Philipson was born in Broughton-in-Furness and moved to Scotland with his family when he was 14. He was schooled at Dumfries Academy and then studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1936 to 1940. On the outbreak of the Second World War he joined the King's Own Scottish Borderers and saw action in India and Burma. After the war, he returned to Edinburgh and became a lecturer at the College of Art in 1947, later taking the post of Head of the Drawing and Painting Department from 1960 to 1982. Philipson's early work - mainly landscapes, still lifes and interiors – was strongly influenced by Kokoschka, whose painting “Zrani” Philipson had studied at length. He was also influenced by Gillies and Maxwell, with whom, amongst others, he shared membership of the group known as The Edinburgh School. He is particularly renowned for his cockfight paintings, a series begun in the early 1950s from sketches made during his time in Burma, which helped to establish his reputation as a painter. His later work in the 1960s explored more general figurative studies plus church and cathedral interiors and crucifixions.
Philipson was well-known for his bold use of colour and his liberal use of heavy impasto in his works. He was appointed as President of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1973, a position he held until 1983. He received a knighthood in 1976 for his services to art in Scotland and was elected Royal Academician in 1980.