Obituary: Ian M. Robertson

Ian Macbeth Robertson, civil servant, born 1 February 1918, Private Secretary to Minister of State Scottish Office 1951-52, to Secretary of State for Scotland 1952-55, Assistant Secretary Department of Health for Scotland 1955, LVO 1956, Assistant Under-Secretary of State Scottish Office 1963-64, Under-Secretary Scottish Development Department 1964-65, Scottish Development Department 1966-78, CB 1976, Secretary of Commissions for Scotland 1978-83, member Williams Committee on National Museums and Galleries in Scotland 1979-81, Chairman of Governors Edinburgh College of Art 1981-88, HRSA 1987, married 1947 Anne Stewart Marshall, died Edinburgh 31 July 1992.

ONLY two months ago (1 June) Ian Robertson wrote for the Independent an extremely sympathetic obituary of Sir Robin Philipson, one of Scotland's leading painters. It was one of very few occasions when he wrote about art at all, writes Colin Thompson.

This was not for want of understanding and appreciation of what he saw. He and his wife Anne assembled over the years a collection of paintings, small but chosen with affection, mostly by artists they knew personally in Scotland, including several by Robin Philipson.

But Ian was a consummate professional in his own field of administration, and for this reason he was always diffident about expressing his own views in any area where he felt himself no more than an interested amateur. He preferred instead to leave it to people who might speak with more authority, listening to what he heard with a highly developed critical faculty - and sense of the absurd - and an extremely retentive memory.

When he joined the Scottish Education Department as Under-Secretary, responsibility for the arts had just been transferred to it from the Home Department. This was in the teeth of strong protests from the Chairman of the National Galleries, but Ian soon convinced him that the move was for the better. It became well-known in time that any letter that concerned the museums or the arts would stop at the Under-Secretary's desk.

His involvement with the arts continued after his retirement with the Williams Committee on Scotland's National Museums and Galleries and, from 1981 to 1988, chairmanship of the Board of Governors of Edinburgh College of Art.

In 1987 he was made an Honorary Royal Scottish Academician in recognition of his continuing support for art and artists. He was a man for whom the arts were a necessary and integral component of civilised life, not - as so many members of other professions are inclined to see them - a frivolous and unnecessarily expensive extra.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Surrey County Council: Senior Project Officer (Fixed Term to Feb 2019)

£26,498 - £31,556: Surrey County Council: We are looking for an outgoing, conf...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003