Boar's Head

Robert Hogg Nisbet

Boar's head

Biography of Robert Hogg Nisbet
(1879 - 1961)

By Robert A. Nisbet Jr.
William Nisbet Ross

October, 2000

Robert Hogg Nisbet was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 25, 1879. His parents were William Douglas Nisbet and Isabella Hogg. He entered the Rhode Island School of Design when he was eight. He later studied in New York and abroad. He taught at Brown University and was president of the Art Students League of New York, where he served as president from 1909-1910.

He was elected an Associate Member of the National Academy of Design in 1920 and a National Academician (N.A.) in 1928. He was an Artist Life member of the National Arts Club. One of the incorporators of the Society of American Etchers, he was also a member of the Philadelphia Society of Etchers. During the early 1900's, Nisbet summered in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and eventually settled in Kent, Connecticut where he founded the Kent Art Association whose members included Willard Metcalf.

His work won him three National Academy awards, several etching awards, and the National Arts Club (Painting) prize. His etchings and paintings were exhibited in Paris, France, Yale University, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Library, National Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, and Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Smithsonian Institution has a database with references to fourteen of his works. Paintings and etchings by Robert H. Nisbet sell for from hundreds of dollars to more than $10,000.

He took up rifle shooting as a boy, and during World War II was a commissioned rifle instructor. He won a number of shooting competitions. He was also interested in archery, and he owned collections of minerals and sea shells.

In 1951 he lived in South Kent, Connecticut in a house in the country with his wife, Mrs. Nisbet. They had a large house and studio, and he was considered quite wealthy. He had a collection of four thousand books. He was a member of the Masons, and was the Deputy Grand Master of the Masons of Connecticut.

His final life was a tragedy as his wife became a complete invalid following a stroke about 1953 and required 24 hour-a-day nursing care which just about bankrupted him. On Robert's death, April 20, 1961, she was put in a Masonic home where she died in less than a week.

Photos from the New Haven, Connecticut 1951 Newspaper article

 Robert H. Nisbet with target rifle.

Mr. And Mrs. Nisbet view "Chatham Shoals" oil painting, which he won a prize for.

Robert H. Nisbet with target rifle.

Mr. And Mrs. Nisbet view "Chatham Shoals" oil painting, which he won a prize for.

Relaxing in his home with some of his 4000 books

Demonstrating to the reporter how to square a circle, a secret of the old cathedral builders.

Relaxing in his home with some of his 4000 books

Demonstrating to the reporter how to square a circle, a secret of the old cathedral builders.

Selected Art work of Robert Hogg Nisbet

Early Moon Rise The Fisherman
Early Moon Rise The Fisherman
River Scene Bathing Nude
River Scene Bathing Nude

James Nisbet the oldest that I (William Nisbet Ross) have reliable information on, was born 25 Dec 1772. He married Helen Nicol on 9 Sept 1796 at Abbotshall, Kirkaldy, Fife. He was trained as a gardener and worked for some 33 years as the gardener/Land Steward for the Earl of Selkirk on St. Mary's Isle near Kikcudbright, which is at the mouth of the river Dee as it empties into the Solway Firth in the Scottish Borders country.

James and Helen had 13 children (no twins), only one of which emigrated to the United States. That was William, b. 21 July 1816, who married Catherine Angus 7 March 1842 and immediately emigrated to the US. They settled in Providence, Rhode Island and proceeded to have 7 children. One was Helen Nicol Nisbet (Grandmother of William Nisbet Ross); another was William Douglas Nisbet, b.6 Oct 1850, who married Isabella Hogg 12 Nov 1878 and settled in at #12 Rhode Island Ave. They had three boys and one girl before William Douglas died on 20 August 1894.

Robert Hogg Nisbet was the oldest, being born 25 August 1879. His brother, Lewis Dexter b. 26 December 1885, d. 12 October 1867. William Douglas Nisbet Jr. b. 16 December 1888, d. 19 February 1960. The girl was the second born but lived only 2 years.

Robert Hogg Nisbet was married, but we do not know the name of his wife at this time. They had no children.

Books that Reference Robert Hogg Nisbet

Year Author Title Sub-Title
2000 The Artists Bluebook 23,000 North American Artists
1999 Falk, Peter Hastings Who Was Who in American Art 1564-1975 3 Vols
1990 Gerdts, William H Art Across America (East) ( Vol 1 )
1990 National Academy of Design Annual Exhibition Record 1901-1950
1989 Falk, Peter Hastings Annual Exhibition Record, 1876-1913 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1989 Falk, Peter Hastings Annual Exhibition Record, 1914-1968 Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
1988 Falk, Peter Hastings Dictionary of Signatures & Monogram  
1986 Opitz, Glen B (editor) Mantle Fielding's Dictionary American Painters, Sculptors et al
1985 Falk, Peter Hastings Who Was Who in American Art Artists Active 1898-1947
1984 Marlor, Clark S The Society of Independent Artists Exhibition Record 1917-1944
1982 Opitz, Glenn Dictionary of American Artists  
1968 Mattatuck Historical Society The Connecticut Artists Collection  
1966 Connecticut College for Women The Art Colony at Old Lyme 1900-35  
1954 Clark, Eliot History of the National Academy of Design 1825-1953
1949 Reese, Albert American Prize Prints of the 20th Century
1948 Mallett, Daniel Trowbridge Index of Artists International Biographical (2 Vols)
1925 National Academy of Design Commemorative Exhibition 1825-1925
1916 Brinton, Christian Impressions of the Art at the Panama Pacific Exposition



Reference Sources:

Electronic mail from William Nisbet Ross to Robert A. Nisbet Jr., March 18, 1999 and March 22, 1999.

New Haven Register newspaper article, "How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day", Sunday October 28, 1951.

ASKART.COM short biography and list of books that list Robert Hogg Nisbet

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