Obituary: Hugh Macandrew

Hugh Macandrew, art curator: born Edinburgh 19 December 1931; Assistant Keeper, Walker Art Gallery 1957-62; Assistant Keeper, Ashmolean Museum 1964-77; Keeper, National Gallery of Scotland 1978-87, Keeper of Prints and Drawings 1987-91; married 1968 Harriet Chance (two sons, one daughter); died Edinburgh 28 July 1993.

AFTER walking through the public galleries of the Ashmolean Museum, in Oxford, with their atmosphere of noli me tangere, what a pleasure it was to see the welcoming figure of Hugh Macandrew in the Print Room, willing to show any print, drawing or water-colour one had a mind to inspect. With what enthusiasm and judgement he would point out its qualities, making one intensely aware of the concentrated brilliance of the design, or mildly regretting the inaccuracy of some line drawn 300 years ago.

Such warmth and expressiveness were characteristic of Macandrew in the Sixties and Seventies at Oxford, where he was in his element. He had grown up in a world of painting, for his great-grandfather had been William MacTaggart, the Scottish landscape artist, and his uncle of the same name had been a fine colourist and President of the Royal Scottish Academy. At home he was surrounded by examples of late 19th-century Scottish painting, so that it was no surprise that after reading history at Edinburgh University and enduring a spell of national service, he turned to the art galleries for a career.

The doors swung open for him fortuitously, when Sir John Rothenstein gave him an unpaid job at the Tate to learn the routines of gallery life. With this experience behind him, he became an Assistant Keeper at the Walker Art Gallery, in Liverpool, in the late Fifties. At that time, music vied with painting for his attention, and he was able to combine the two when he spent all his savings on a grand piano. In 1962 he decided to go to Italy to improve his knowledge of paintings and drawings. He sold his piano, cashed in his pension fund, and went to live in Florence.

As was the way in those days, he had no problem finding a job when he returned. Interviewed by Sir Karl Parker in a taxi between King's Cross and Paddington, he was offered a post in the Department of Western Art at the Ashmolean in 1964. There he was able to develop his expertise in Italian drawings of the 16th and 17th centuries, specialising most notably in the Genoese School. His meticulous scholarship shines through in his main work at Oxford, the revision aud enlargement of Parker's catalogue of the Italian drawings in the Ashmolean, which was published in 1980. Macandrew had an exceptionally fine eye for a baroque drawing, and a talent for establishing the whole life history of a work of art. A six-month residency at the Museum of Fine Arts at Boston allowed him to advance the catalogue of the Italian drawings there, and enabled him to become known in the galleries of the East Coast of the United States.

In the later Seventies, Macandrew began to turn more to the study of easel paintings, and he also began to feel the ancestral pull of Scotland. He was appointed Keeper of the National Gallery of Scotland in 1978. At Edinburgh he collaborated with other colleagues in the art world to mount important exhibitions on Degas, Scottish Landscape, and Poussin and Cezanne. He embarked on the catalogue of the Dutch paintings, and his greatest satisfaction in that time was probably the acquisition for the gallery of Sanredam's painting of the church of St Bavo in Haarlem. The drastic reorganisation of the Edinburgh gallery in 1987 caused Macandrew to move to Prints and Drawings, where he set about revising the catalogue of German drawings prepared by his predecessor, Keith Andrews. Macandrew retired in 1991, and seemed then to have time to involve himself in the project he had long been planning: an edition of the letters and a catalogue of the collections of John Talman, the early 18th-century antiquary and virtuoso. Sadly, ill-health put an end to this work.

Hugh Macandrew's personal modesty and high professional expertise combined to project an air of complete integrity that was most uncommon. His devotion to art was exceeded only by his devotion to his family. He married Harriet Chance, from Dublin, in 1968, and she brought that knowledge of the world and how to overcome its challenges that Hugh appeared to lack. It was in many ways a marriage of opposites that both partners enormously enjoyed.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness