Phyllis Bone

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Phyllis Bone
Phyllis Mary Bone

15 February 1894
Died12 July 1972 (1972-07-13) (aged 78)
Dumfries, Scotland
EducationEdinburgh College of Art
Known forAnimal sculptor

Phyllis Mary Bone RSA (15 February 1894 – 12 July 1972)[1] was a 20th-century Scottish sculptor. She has the particular claim to fame as being the first female Academician of the Royal Scottish Academy.[2] Although primarily the creator of small figurines, her works include several commissions at national level.


Elephant roundel by Phyllis Bone on Ashworth Laboratories, Kings Buildings, Edinburgh
Aardvark by Phyllis Bone

Bone was born in Hornby, Lancashire, the daughter of Dr Douglas Mayhew Bone and his wife Mary Campbell Smith.[3] As a child she had a great love for animals, her pet pony and retriever were the first models for drawing. She also enjoyed visiting Edinburgh's Zoological Park, studying, drawing and eventually sculpting animals. This fascination with the shapes and actions of animals influenced her pursuit in becoming an animal sculptor.[4]

Education and training[edit]

Bone was educated at St George School for Girls in Edinburgh then trained as a sculptor at Edinburgh College of Art (1912–18) under Alexander Carrick, Pilkington Jackson and Percy Portsmouth. She received a diploma in Sculpture in 1918. During this time she also twice travelled to Paris, under a travel scholarship, to train specifically as an animal sculptor under Edouard Navellier.[1] This travel scholarship and tutoring by Navellier was something her fellow Edinburgh College Art alumna, the sculptor Mary Syme Boyd, would also undertake over ten years later between 1929 and 1933.[5]


Bone served in the Women's Legion as a driver during the First World War.[6]

In Scotland, Bone quickly gained fame as an animal sculptor. At first she worked within the Holyrood Pottery but soon became independent. She took up residence first at 5 Alva Street in Edinburgh where she lived until 1935. Bone was elected an associate member of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1939, being nominated by Benno Schotz, and was the first woman to be elected a full member of the Academy in 1940.[7]

Originally she shared studios with the Scottish Colourists at the Albert Gallery, 24 Shandwick Place, Edinburgh. She latterly largely worked at the Dean studios in Dean Village (1935–50). From 1946 onwards she began spending more time in Galloway, taking a second home in Newton Stewart whilst in Edinburgh thereafter only retaining a small basement flat at 7 Randolph Cliff. In 1950 she left Edinburgh permanently and joined an artists' colony on the Solway Firth, living thereafter at Hillview, Barrhill Road, Kirkcudbright. Her work was also part of the sculpture event in the art competition at the 1948 Summer Olympics.[8]

She died in Dumfries Hospital and is buried in Kirkcudbright. Her portrait (by Robert Sivell) is held in the Gracefield Collection in Dumfries.

Public works[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Phyllis Mary Bone ARSA, RSA - Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland 1851-1951". 14 July 1972. Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  2. ^ Cumming, Elizabeth (2018). Phyllis M. Bone: animal sculptor. Edinburgh: Georgian Antiques. p. 19. ISBN 9781527225220.
  3. ^ Modern Scottish Women: Painters and Sculptors 1885–1965 ISBN 978-1-906270-89-6
  4. ^ Bone, Phyllis M. (1962). Deer Talk (Preface). Galashiels: Michael Slains.
  5. ^ Alice Strang (2015). Modern Scottish Women: Painters & Sculptors 1885–1965. Edinburgh: National Galleries of Scotland. pp. 37–38. ISBN 9781906270896.
  6. ^ Sara Gray (8 February 2019). British women artists: a biographical dictionary of 1,000 women artists in the British decorative arts. United Kingdom. ISBN 978-1911121633. OCLC 1085975377.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  7. ^ Alice Strang (26 November 2020). "Pioneering women at the Royal Scottish Academy". Art UK. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Phyllis Bone". Olympedia. Retrieved 26 August 2020.
  9. ^ a b Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh, by Gifford McWilliam and Walker ISBN 9780140710687
  10. ^ a b c Tim Gardner. "Phyllis Bone (1894–1972), sculptor, a biography". Retrieved 21 April 2016.
  11. ^ "St John's Kirk of Perth Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland". Retrieved 21 April 2016.

External links[edit]