Portrait of Mrs. Thomas D. Robertson

Local artists created Rockford’s art institutions, beginning with the Rockford Sketch Club, which met informally and held the first art exhibitions in the area as early as the 1870s. Incorporated in 1887 by industrialist Robert H. TInker, artist Sydney Yard and club president Walter Belford at the Atchley Photography Studio, early members included Scottish immigrant George J. Robertson, one of the first art instructors in Rockford and the only professional artist listed in the first city directory in 1857. Trained by J.M.W. Turner at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, he painted some of the earliest known views of the city’s environs along the Rock River (View near Byron, Rock River, Illinois, 1858, pl. 1), the picturesque tributary of the Mississippi River that connected the city to a number of burgeoning communities to its west and ultimately to Davenport, Iowa. Robertson was professor of art at Rockford Female Seminary (later Rockford College, now Rockford University) from 1860 to 1885.—excerpted from the commemorative book RAM 100: Rockford Art Museum Centennial, 1913–2013


Constant Pressure

Hearts RAM web

Life–The Paintings of Deborah Newton