Sir David Wilkie
Sir David Wilkie, 1785 - 1841. Artist (Self-portrait)
about 1804 - 1805
Wilkie was born in the village of Pitlessie in the parish of Cults, Fife. Here, he gazes straight out at the viewer, just as he would into the mirror to paint this striking self-portrait, made when he was twenty. He had by this time demonstrated his remarkable ability to portray contemporary events and with this work confirmed his skills as an accomplished portrait painter. Wilkie grips a portfolio in one hand and his pencil holder in the other. His fashionably tousled reddish hair and brown jacket stand out subtly from the similarly toned background. He may have painted the work just before his move from Edinburgh to London in 1805.
Sir William Allan
The Celebration of the Birthday of James Hogg, 1770 - 1835
1823 or 1825
This scene shows a group of friends celebrating the birthday of James Hogg, the writer nicknamed ‘the Ettrick Shepherd’. The gathering includes the artistic and literary elite of Scottish society. John Wilson (Christopher North), the author and moral philosoher, raises a toast to Hogg, who is swaying back on his chair at the left of the group. Next to Hogg, leaning on the table, is Sir Walter Scott. The setting is Hogg’s house at Eltrive, and includes some beautifully observed details of a domestic interior in the early nineteenth century.
Three Heads: The Witches of Macbeth
about 1767 - 1768
In 1767 John Runciman and his brother Alexander travelled to Rome. There they joined an international group of artists associated with Henri Fuseli (1741–1825). Many of the artists in this circle were interested in dramatic, fantastic subjects that afforded them a new freedom in their work. Subjects stemmed from poetry, literature, and particularly the theatrical works of Shakespeare. John was an accomplished draughtsman and etcher, and in Rome his work became more vibrant and expressive in style. In this rapidly executed sketch, the brown wash on the paper is highlighted with light gouache, giving the figures an eerie and supernatural appearance. Previously catalogued as ‘Three Satyrs’, it is now believed that they are the three witches from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’.
Men’s horsehair wig circa 1780-1790
Samuel Thomas Russell as the character Jerry Sneak in Samuel Footes The Mayor of Garratt, by Samuel de Wilde (1748-1832)
CHARLES GRANT, VICOMTE DE VAUX, Painted in 1781-1782 by Louis-Roland Trinquesse
The Vicomte was a Frenchman of Caledonian extraction who served as a sous-lieutenant in the Scots Company of the Garde du Roi, eventually rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. A cadet branch of the Scottish clan, the Grants in France made sure to maintain links with their kinsmen in the old country. Abbé Peter Grant helped Sir James Grant, 8th Bt., commence an art collection while Sir James was on the Grand Tour in 1759-60. Abbé Grant’s nephew, Baron Grant de Blairfindy, was a fellow Catholic and Colonel in the Légion Royale of Louis XVI.
In a letter to Sir James, who was Chief of the Grants, Blairfindy described their fellow kinsman the Vicomte de Vaux as “a clever, brave officer, polite in company… as brave as his sword,” though, rather disappointingly, the Baron adds that the Vicomte “never drinks”. De Vaux himself took a keen interest in his extended family, and when the terrors of the French Revolution forced him into exile in London, he published there his Mémoires de la Maison Grant depicting the history of the clan.
Sir John Baptiste de Medina
The Family of John Hay, 1st Marquess Tweeddale, 1626 - 1697. Lord High Chancellor of Scotland
In 1694 John Hay was created Marquess of Tweeddale in recognition of his support for William of Orange in the years leading up to the Glorious Revolution. Medina’s portrait of the Hay family was probably commissioned to celebrate this event. Although the canvas is large, the effect of so many sons, daughters, sons and daughters-in-law crowding around the Marquess (the largest figure on the left) and his wife is overwhelming. Medina worked from existing portraits to compile this dynastic statement. The Marquess’s wife is shown holding a wreath of flowers, she had died in 1688, and two sons who died in infancy are looking down from the heavens
Sir James Macdonald 1741 - 1766 and Sir Alexander Macdonald 1744/1745 - 1795
The two boys, James on the right and Alexander on the left, were the sons of Sir Alexander Macdonald of Macdonald, a great Highland chieftain with estates on the Isle of Skye. James is shown with his gun, Alexander is playing golf. Golf was already a well-established pastime in Scotland by this time. The children wear three different patterns of tartan between them, as individual family or clan patterns did not become widely established until the end of the eighteenth century.
Christoffer Wilhelm Eckersberg, Three Spartan Boys, 1812
James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton, 1606 - 1649. Royalist
James, Duke of Hamilton, was the close friend and principal Scottish advisor to Charles I. This picture shows him aged twenty-three dressed in a rich silver suit, embroidered with metal thread, and the softest leather boots, folded back into deep tops. Hamilton appreciated the work of Mytens, the leading court portraitist, and he had been painted by him six years earlier. Like his king, Hamilton was a keen collector of art. Following his king politically cost Hamilton his head. He was executed less than six weeks after the king, on the same scaffold at Whitehall.