Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
William McNicol Whyte
(fl.1883-1923)
Whyte started his practice in 1883, at 152 Eglinton Street, moved to 103 Regent Street the following year, then to 87 Union Street, 1910. He last operated at 10 Elmbank Street in 1923.

Little of his work has been identified but his Second Empire-style tenement Balmoral Crescent, 78-118 Queen's Drive (1885-6), and the Baronial Inverclyde Gardens, 137-59 Broomhill Drive (1902) reveal him to be an architect of skill and fancy.

His portrait is carved on the western-most oriel window of Balmoral Crescent, together with that of its builder Hugh Wilson.

According to an article in the Glasgow Herald (18 July, 1923, p. 8), Whyte's portrait appears to be the one at the right of the window, with full beard (Wilson has Dundreary whiskers).

Also at Balmoral Crescent, above the eastern-most corner, is a female statue holding a shield and brandishing a now broken sword.

She has come to be known as the Statue of Liberty, and is said to be reminiscent of the architect's American connections.

Ranged across the building's lower storey, above its numerous entrances, are groups of four half-length figures representing the arts, crafts and seasons, each of which are identified by an attribute, such as a paint palette and brushes, a book, a hammer, a sickle, etc.

Another set of figures are said to be caricatures of local politicians who opposed the architect's plans for the building, and are known as the Crosshill Baillies. Unfortunately, the identity of the carver of this intriguing sculpture scheme is not known.

At Inverclyde Gardens, Whyte eschewed figurative sculpture, but made up for this with an array of Baronial motifs such as turrets with projecting canons, strapwork, thistles, shields, canon ball finials and lengths of cable along its frontage.




Sources:

 
Works in our Database:
1: Queen's Drive (Crosshill),
On the façade and attic of Balmoral Crescent, 78-118 Queen's Drive
Liberty and Corbel Figures (c.1886)
Sculptor: unknown; Architect: WM Whyte
 
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