Yesterday was a monumental day for the Stirling Smith, when the new bronze portrait of King Robert the Bruce is unveiled by his descendant Lord Bruce. The portrait combines the research of Andrew Nelson, Professor of Anthropology of Western University, Ontario, with the work of forensic sculptor Christian Corbet, Sculptor in Residence at the Royal Canadian Navy. Together they have concluded that King Robert was never a victim of leprosy, laying to rest a pernicious 700-year old rumour. The evidence came from the close study of a cast of Bruce’s skull.
It was from the same cast that the sculptor Pilkington Jackson created his portrait of Bruce for the statue at Bannockburn, in 1960-1964. It is a little-known fact that the Bannockburn statue was made possible through funding from Canadian lawyer and philanthropist Eric L. Harvie. The bargain struck was that an identical statue of Bruce was provided for the grounds of the Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary, Canada.
Canadian philanthropy is in the forefront again in celebrating the memory of King Robert, as the bronze is the gift of the sculptor Christian Corbet to Scotland and to Stirling, where it will star in the collections of the Stirling Smith. Corbet has helped change the course of Scottish history with this remarkable work.