Tuesday, 16 April 2013

The National Gallery of Scotland

Set half way along Princes Street, in a small break in the gardens, where a road has been built between the old town and the new town, is the building of The National Gallery of Scotland. It was designed by William Henry Playfair, who designed many buildings in the new town, and opened in 1859.

Since I was a student some years ago in Edinburgh, I've spend many hours wandering around it's halls. It's huge collection, both international and Scottish, but it wasn't until the beginning of this year that they changed there rules to allow photographs, so yesterday I wandered round with my camera and took a great pile of pictures.

Most if the works in the hall below are international, including Rodin's Kiss which is currently on loan from the Tate, but in this blog I'm concentrating on pictures of a Scottish connection.

This picture by Robert Burns (the painter  not the poet) was part of a commission by D.S. Crawford for decorating his tearoom at 70 Princes Street. Since this was just across the road this may be one of the least travelled pictures in the gallery.

Seems like a good excuse to show you a picture of the tearoom from the net.

Most of the William McTaggart  paintings I've seen are seaside paintings, and mostly delightful too. This is A Summer Day at Carnoustie.

Machrihannish Bay, also by Mr McTaggart

Master Baby by William Quiller Orchardson. This is Sir Williams wife, Ellen, and his son, Gordon (minus one sock).

There are four wonderful tapestries by Phoebe Anna Traquair who frequently appears on these pages. Due to the glass on the pictures and not being able to stand all that far back, my photos of them are a bit rubbish. This one is taken from the gallery's own website and all four can be seen of this blog.

I did manage to get some close ups.

This painting of the Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch was painted by Henry Raeburn. The gallery use this painting as one of their main images for merchandise even though it is particularly atypical of Sir Henry's style. A recent article on the BBC suggests that it may not have been painted by him at all.

This portrait of Mrs Robert Scott Moncrieff and his famous portrait of Sir Walter Scott are much nearer his usual style.

A generation before Raeburn one of the great portrait painters of his day was Allan Ramsay. This one is of one Thomas Lamb who was mayor of Rye twenty times.

This, one of his earlier paintings, is of Katherine Hall of Dunglass.

A painting of a Geisha Girl painted George Henry. In 1893 he went on a tour of the Orient with E.A. Hornel and he painted this picture soon after his return.

William Bell Scott took a scene from Edmund Spencer's The Faerie Queene for this painting of Una and the Lion.

Entrance to the Cuiraing, Skye by Waller Hugh Paton. He was the brother of Sir Joseph Noel Paton who has paintings elsewhere in the gallery and I intend to give him a blog all to himself later.

Anne Emily Sophia Grant (Daisy) as painted by her father Sir Francis Grant. He also painted Walter Scott (though not as famously as Raeburn)

John Singer Sargent may be an American (born in Italy just to confuse) but this portrait is of a Scottish person, Lady Agnew of Lochnaw. It is a painting I have seen used a book cover before.

 Also by an American artist on a Scottish theme, this painting by Benjamin West is the biggest painting in the collection. The painting shows the moment when Alexander III, about to be killed by a stag while hunting, is rescued by Irish exile Colin Fitzgerald. The king was suitably grateful and gave Colin the castle of Eilean Donan (see this blog). It is from Colin Fitzgerald that the clan Mackenzie descends and the clan coat of arm bears has a stag on it. Unfortunately 400 years later the clan was finding itself a bit out of favour when it picked the loosing side in the Jacobite uprising. It was for this reason that in 1784, Francis Humberston Mackenzie, the clan chief at the time, commissioned this painting to try and show his clan in a better light again.

In 2004 the painting was in need of some restoration but due to it's size the gallery were concerned about moving it far. This led them to restore it in the gallery, cornering of a section of the room. It also meant that the general public was able to see the whole process for themselves. The gallery has an article on the restoration here.


The Glebe Blog said...

Lovely post Sandy and what a lot of links. I remember coming across the picture "Across the Solway to Kirkcudbright" on the internet while doing a search.At the time I thought 'I didn't know Burns was an artist'. It was only on reading further I realized there was another one.
I read that the memorial to Orchardson in Margate Cemetery in Kent has fallen over. It makes me think that we are failing in keeping our heritage. All over the U.K historic buildings and memorials are being lost to erosion. I'd sooner some of my tax was going to the preservation of historic monuments than a pensioner's over the top funeral.
Henry Raeburn and John Singer Sergeant liked the ladies. The portrait of Lady Agnew of Lochnaw propelled both the artist and the sitter into the national limelight at the time. (Not that I remember it, having taken lots of pictures of Lochnaw, I did some research)
The Death of a Stag is an amazing picture. I'm in awe of great painters.
I'm also amazed that you were allowed to take photographs. Well done sir.

Michael (Light-In-A-Box) said...

Sandy, The National Gallery looks immaculate inside for a vintage building, at least in the one photograph. The paintings seem to have amazing detail, very nice indeed!
Glad they allow cameras in there now..

Spring has not sprung here, it is cold, sunny today but cold!
I think we might have a better chance of Spring in the month of May?

Ellie said...

Hi Sandy, I've not been to your blog in quite a while. Hope you are well!!!
We visited the National Gallery when we visited Edinbugh last year. There are lots of wonderful paintings and tapestries there. You managed to get a good selection of pictures of them. :))

Dominic Rivron said...

Your rocky Skye photo - I've just seen Nick Crane on Coast climbing the Cioch on Skye of all things! Great TV.

Thanks for posting these photos(great to see you posting again) - I must make it up to the National Gallery some time.

Sandy's witterings said...

Jim, I was quite delighted at being able to take photos after such a long time not being allowed - Birmingham art galleries allow it and the Lady Lever in Lierool so it's not unknow by a long way.
Here's Sir Williams rather forgotten grave

Michael - the building's mid 19th century - not all that old for Edinburgh - and only one careful owner.
Spring is definately on the way - better late than never.

Ellen, There's definately some great pictures there - more due on this blog at some point.

Dominic, Just looked the Cioch up, it looks a bit hairy - I like solid ground and if I'm going to fall over/off then I like to think I'll drop no further than my feet, but I've no problem if anyone else feels mad enough to have a go. I think that this might be the inaccessible pinicle but I'm not sure.