Robert Walker Macbeth was an etcher, watercolourist and painter of pastoral landscape and rustic genre. He was the son of the portrait painter Norman Macbeth.
Macbeth studied in London, where he worked for the Graphic. His realistic scenes of everyday life, painted in the countryside of Lincolnshire and Somerset, were influenced by the works of the landscape and pastoral painter George Hemming Mason and the genre painter and watercolourist Frederick Walker, and have been compared to the writings of Thomas Hardy. His The Cast Shoe was bought by the Chantrey Bequest in 1890.
Macbeth exhibited from 1871 at the Royal Academy, Royal Society of Portrait Painters, Grosvenor Gallery, New Gallery, Fine Art Society, Royal Society of Artists in Birmingham, Royal Scottish Academy, Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts, Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and Manchester City Art Gallery. Thomas Way writing to JW in 1880, described Macbeth's works, which were being exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery, as 'a failure as usual' (#06082). However, Dowdeswell, who had included Macbeth's etchings with those of JW in an exhibition of miscellaneous etchings in the late 1870s, spoke favourably of Macbeth's work in the following decade (#08699).
In 1871 Macbeth was made an associate of the Royal Water Colour Society, although he was not made a full member until 1901. He became a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1880, being made an honorary member in 1909. In 1882 he was elected to the membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and the following year of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. In 1883 he was elected an associate of the Royal Academy, becoming a full member in 1903.
Like JW, Macbeth was also a member of The Arts Club from 1876 to 1906. In 1882 both Macbeth and JW signed a petition to The Arts Club committee requesting that, during the sitting of Parliament, Parliamentary and General Telegraphic dispatches should be sent to the Club (#13336). Macbeth appears to have shared the Tower House, 28 (46) Tite Street, with R. C. Woodville, G. D. Giles and JW. He was among those who attended a dinner organised by W. C. Symons to congratulate JW on being made an Honorary Member of the Royal Academy of Munich, a dinner which was to be held at the Criterion in Piccadilly on 1 May 1889 (#03666).
Caw, J. L., Scottish Painting 1620-1908, London, 1908; Wood, Christopher, The Dictionary of Victorian Painters, Woodbridge, 1971; Johnson, J., and A. Gruetzner, The Dictionary of British Artists 1880-1940, Woodbridge, 1980; Walkley, Giles, Artists' houses in London 1764-1914, Aldershot, 1994.