Visiting the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The UK’s National Portrait Gallery was established in 1856 as an art gallery to house portraits of historical figures in British History. In 1896 it moved to its present location on Trafalgar Square in London. Well, when we visited Edinburgh last May we discovered that the Scots have their own National Portrait Gallery and it has been around since 1890. We visited the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street one day and we came away impressed with both the collection of art and the interior architecture of the building.


One side of the processional frieze created by William Hole in 1898. The timeline in this portion of the frieze starts on the right with Robert II (1316-1390), son of Robert the Bruce, and ends on the left with James VI (1566-1625), son of Mary Queen of Scots. Mary herself is the eleventh figure from the left.

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

A processional frieze created by William Hole in 1898 wraps around all four sides of the museum’s entrance hall. Hole also painted the murals that adorn many of the walls on the first floor.


The Landing of St Margaret at Queen’s Ferry, AD 1068 by William Hole (1846-1917).


Detail of Battle of Bannockburn mural on the museum’s first floor.


Another portion of the Battle of Bannockburn mural by William Hole.

The following photo is the original color version of the photo I submitted for this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge (see here).


Looking down from the museum’s first floor at the statue of Robert Burns on the ground floor of the entrance hall.


Robert Burns (1759-1796) by John Flaxman.

Most of the galleries are on the museum’s second floor. Some of the rooms contain permanent collections while others display rotating themes. The exhibit in Gallery 1 is entitled Reformation to Revolution. It closes on April 1, 2019.


Posthumous portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots (1542-1587) by an unknown artist in 1610.


Tom Derry, court jester to Queen Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI. Painting by Marcus Gheeraerts.

Galleries 2 and 3 contain a special exhibit on the Tweeddale family. This exhibit closes on May 28, 2017.



John Hay (1626-1697), 1st Marquess of Tweeddale, and his family.

Galleries 5 and 6 contain a special exhibit called Scots in Italy which closes on March 3, 2019. Although all of the portraits in the museum are of Scots only about half of the works are created by Scot artists. Many prominent Scots either lived in exile or just visited countries such as Italy where they encountered European artists who immortalized them on canvas.


Two rooms on the second floor are devoted to the Scots in Italy exhibit.


One of the two rooms devoted to Scots in Italy.


David Allan (1744-1796) by Dominico Corvi.


Lady Charlotte Campbell, writer and famous beauty (1775-1861) by Johann Heinrich Wilhelm Tischbein.


James Boswell (1740-1795) diarist and biographer of Samuel Johnson, by George Willison (1741-1797).

The museum’s library is located on the first floor. Also on this floor is a room that holds the Scottish National Photography Collection. And Gallery 11 is a large room that usually contains an exhibit for which there is an admission charge. The current exhibit is entitled Facing the World – Self Portraits Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei but you better hurry if you want to see it — it closes this Sunday!


The library is located on the museum’s first floor.

Here are some more portraits I found in different rooms. I hope you find them interesting!


Lady Helen Montgomery by Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), Scotland’s most famous portrait painter of the 18th century.


Lady Isabelle Smith nee Ewing of Jordanhill (1755-1855) by John Graham-Gilbert (1794-1866). Graham-Gilbert’s art collection became the base of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum present collection.


One room has more sculpture than paintings. Here is a bust of Sir Walter Scott by Bertel Thorvaldsen. Scott died in 1832 but the bust was not completed until 1834.


The Golfers by Charles Lees (1800-1880). Lees documented a famous match at St Andrews. He made more than 50 portraits of famous individuals and then incorporated them into one painting.


Elizabeth Murray, Duchess of Lauderdale (1626-1691) by Benedetto Gennari.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is on 1 Queen Street at the end of York Place in Edinburgh. It was well worth the five-minute walk from our hotel (Holiday Inn Express) on Picardy Place!

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Architecture, Art, art history, Scotland, Travel, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Visiting the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

  1. disperser says:

    Interesting stuff.

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you so much for the grand tour!

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