He was born in Edinburgh on 10 November 1795. At the age of two he suffered a "nervous fever" which left him deaf. Through the careful attention of his father he obtained a good education. Before he had the advantage of the instruction of a master he had attained considerable proficiency in sketching both figures and landscapes from nature, and in 1812 he was admitted into the drawing academy of the board of Scottish manufactures. He first exhibited in 1815, and was elected an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1831, and a fellow in 1834.
In the 1830s Walter was living with his father, Archibald Geikie, a hairdresser and perfumer, at 2 Drummond Street in the south side of the city.
Owing to his want of feeling for color, Geikie was not a successful painter in oils, but he sketched in India ink with great truth and humor the scenes and characters of Scottish lower-class life in his native city. A series of etchings which exhibit very high excellence were published by him in 1829-1831 and a collection of eighty-one of these was republished posthumously in 1841, with a biographical introduction by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Bart.
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- "Edinburgh Post Office annual directory, 1832-1833". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 2018-01-20.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Geikie, Walter". Encyclopædia Britannica. 11 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 553.
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