The Ten Best Paintings in the Scottish National Gallery

Alexander McCall Smith has written a series of novels called The Sunday Philosophy Club that features Edinburgh’s super amateur detective Isabel Dalhousie. I read the first book in the series a week before our trip to Scotland and the second book while over the Atlantic on our way to Edinburgh. I started the third book soon after we arrived in Edinburgh. In one of the first scenes in this third book Isabel visits the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound off Princes Street and meets a mysterious couple there. One day in Edinburgh my wife decided to do some shopping on Princes Street and so I made a beeline to follow Isabel to the Scottish National Gallery. I didn’t meet any mysterious people that day but I did see some interesting artwork. Here are my ten favorites:


#10 Rembrandt van Rijn, A Woman in Bed (1647). The Dutch master combined a striking pose with light and color to produce this masterpiece.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.


#9 George Henry, Geisha Girl (1894). Henry was a member of the Glasgow Boys. He once spent 18 months studying in Japan.


#8 Paul Cezanne, The Big Trees (1902-04).


#7 Vincent Van Gogh, Olive Trees: Bright Blue Sky (1889). One of many paintings Van Gogh completed while he was hospitalized in Arles for his mental illness.


#6 Edgar Degas, Before the Performance (1896-98).


#5 Claude Monet, Poplars on the Epte (1891). This photo just covers the right side of the painting.


#4 Paul Gauguin, Three Tahitians (1899). The man must decide between the apple (vice) and the flowers (virtue).


#3 Vincent Van Gogh, Orchard in Blossom (Plum Trees) (1888). Two paintings by Vincent in the top ten!


#2 John Singer Sargent, Lady Agnew of Lochnaw (1892). This is the painting that made Sargent famous. Lady Agnew became pretty famous, too.


#1 Sir James Guthrie, A Hind’s Daughter (1883). My favorite just happens to be a Scottish painting! Guthrie was a member of the anti-establishment Glasgow Boys when he painted this at the age of 23. He later joined the establishment and became president of the Royal Scottish Academy.

After my visit to the Scottish National Gallery my wife and I spent some relaxing time in the Princes Street Gardens admiring the view. That’s where I took a lot of the photos in my posting (see here) on the Views from Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

We’ve been home for three weeks now and I have processed about half of my photos of Scotland. I guess it’s time to start another Isabel Dalhousie novel!

This was my first encounter with Scottish painting. A couple of weeks after this day we visited the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow where we saw an informative and well-organized exhibit on the Glasgow Boys. I’ll have a posting on this visit in a few weeks.


About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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4 Responses to The Ten Best Paintings in the Scottish National Gallery

  1. StillWalks says:

    Good choices. I look forward to seeing your pick of the Glasgow collection.

  2. Pingback: The Ten Best Paintings in the Scottish National Gallery — Crow Canyon Journal – spiritus

  3. Peter Klopp says:

    This must be a great art gallery housing so many masters in one place! Thanks for sharing the 10 best paintings!

  4. lauramacky says:

    I’ve always loved “Before the Performance”. Never seen it in person though!

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