|National Gallery of Scotland|
|Location|| The Mound |
|Public transit access|| Princes Street |
The Scottish National Gallery (formerly the National Gallery of Scotland) is the national art gallery of Scotland. It is located on The Mound in central Edinburgh, close to Princes Street. The building was designed in a neoclassical style by William Henry Playfair, and first opened to the public in 1859.
The gallery houses Scotland's national collection of fine art, spanning Scottish and international art from the beginning of the Renaissance up to the start of the 20th century.
The Scottish National Gallery is run by National Galleries of Scotland, a public body that also owns the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Because of its architectural similarity, the Scottish National Gallery is frequently confused by visitors with the neighbouring Royal Scottish Academy Building (RSA), a separate institution which works closely with the Scottish National Gallery.
The origins of Scotland's national collection lie with the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland, founded in 1819. It began to acquire paintings, and in 1828 the Royal Institution building opened on The Mound. In 1826, the Scottish Academy was founded by a group of artists who, dissatisfied with its policies, seceded from the Royal Institution, and in 1838 it became the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA). A key aim of the RSA was the founding of a national collection. It began to build up a collection and from 1835 rented exhibition space within the Royal Institution building.
In the 1840s, plans were put in place for a new building to house the RSA.The noted Scottish architect William Henry Playfair was commissioned to prepare designs, and on 30 August 1850, Prince Albert laid the foundation stone. The building was originally divided along the middle, with the east half housing the exhibition galleries of the RSA, and the western half containing the new National Gallery of Scotland, formed from the collection of the Royal Institution. In 1912 the RSA moved into the Royal Institution building, which remains known as the Royal Scottish Academy Building. When it re-opened, the gallery concentrated on building its permanent collection of Scottish and European art for the nation of Scotland.
In the early 21st century, the National Galleries launched the Playfair Project, a scheme to create a new basement entrance to the National Gallery in Princes Street Gardens and an underground connecting space, called the Weston Link, between the Gallery and the renovated Royal Scottish Academy building. The new underground space opened in 2004.
In 2012, the gallery's umbrella organisation, National Galleries of Scotland, underwent a rebranding exercise, and National Gallery of Scotland was renamed the Scottish National Gallery.
William Playfair's building—like its neighbour, the Royal Scottish Academy—was designed in the form of an Ancient Greek temple. While Playfair designed the RSA in the Doric order, the National Gallery building is in the Ionic order. The main east and west elevations have plain pilastrading with the higher central transverse block having hexastyle Ionic porticoes. Paired Ionic columns in antis are flanked by tetrastyle Ionic porticoes at north and south. The design reflects the building's original dual purpose being divided longitudinally with the exhibition galleries of the RSA to the east and the National Gallery to the west.
Playfair worked to a much more limited budget than the RSA project, and this is reflected in his comparatively austere architectural style. He may have drawn inspiration from an 1829 scheme for an arcade of shops by Archibald Elliot II, son of Archibald Elliot. Playfair's National Gallery was laid out in a cruciform plan; he originally planned to build towers at the corners of the transverse central block, but these were abandoned during the project. When the RSA moved into the former Royal Institution building in 1912, the Office of Works Architect for Scotland, William Thomas Oldrieve remodelled the NGS interior to house the National Gallery collection exclusively.
In the 1970s, when the gallery was under the direction of the Department of the Environment, the internal accommodation was extended. An upper floor was added at the south end in 1972, creating five new small galleries, and in 1978 a new gallery was opened in the basement to house the Gallery's Scottish Collection.
The new Princes Street Gardens entrance and underground space opened in 2004 was designed by John Miller and Partners. Construction took five years and cost £32 million. The area contains a lecture theatre, education area, shop, restaurant, an interactive gallery, and a link to the RSA building.
In January 2019, construction work began on a project to alter the lower level areas and to create extended exhibition space. It is planned that the Princes Street Gardens entrance will become the main entrance of the gallery; to facilitate access, East Princes Street Gardens is being re-landscaped with sloping paths and 52 trees have been felled, to be replaced with 22 newly planted saplings.The redevelopment is delayed until at least late 2022, as a result of asbestos being found in part of the structure and due to the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research facilities at the Scottish National Gallery include the Prints and Drawings Collection of over 30,000 works on paper, from the early Renaissance to the late nineteenth century; and the reference-only Research Library. The Research Library covers the period from 1300 to 1900 and holds approximately 50,000 volumes of books, journals, slides, and microfiches, as well as some archival material relating to the collections, exhibitions and history of the National Gallery. The Print Room or Research Library can be accessed by appointment.
At the heart of the National Gallery's collection is a group of paintings transferred from the Royal Scottish Academy. This includes masterpieces by Jacopo Bassano, Van Dyck and Giambattista Tiepolo. The National Gallery did not receive its own purchase grant until 1903.
In the Gallery's main ground floor rooms are displayed a number of major large-scale canvases such as Benjamin West's Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the Fury of a Stag (1786), Rubens's The Feast of Herod (1633 or c.1637-38) and a pair of paintings by Titian, Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto (purchased jointly with the National Gallery, London). The Scottish National Gallery has also jointly acquired one of Canova's sculptures of The Three Graces with the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Scottish National Gallery has a notable collection of works by Scottish artists, including several landscapes by Alexander Nasmyth, and several works by Sir Henry Raeburn — of particular note his portraits of Alexander Ranaldson Macdonell and Sir Walter Scott), and his celebrated painting, The Skating Minister . There are also a number of works by artists of the Glasgow School such as James Guthrie. The Gallery also holds a collection of works by English painters, such as Constable's The Vale of Dedham and a sizeable collection of water colours by Turner which are traditionally displayed in January. The Monarch of the Glen , a painting considered to depict the grandeur of the wildlife and scenery of the Scottish Highlands, is also held in the gallery, the work of the English painter Sir Edwin Landseer.
Key works of art displayed at the National Gallery include:
Other artists represented in the collection include:
The National Gallery is an art museum in Trafalgar Square in the City of Westminster, in Central London, England. Founded in 1824, it houses a collection of over 2,300 paintings dating from the mid-13th century to 1900. The current Director of the National Gallery is Gabriele Finaldi.
Tiziano Vecelli or Vecellio, known in English as Titian, was an Italian (Venetian) painter of the Renaissance, considered the most important member of the 16th-century Venetian school. He was born in Pieve di Cadore, near Belluno. During his lifetime he was often called da Cadore, 'from Cadore', taken from his native region.
Sir Henry Raeburn was a Scottish portrait painter. He served as Portrait Painter to King George IV in Scotland.
National Galleries of Scotland is the executive non-departmental public body that controls the three national galleries of Scotland and two partner galleries, forming one of the National Collections of Scotland.
William Henry PlayfairFRSE was a prominent Scottish architect in the 19th century, who designed the Eastern, or Third, New Town and many of Edinburgh's neoclassical landmarks.
The Royal Scottish Academy building, the home of the Royal Scottish Academy, is situated on The Mound in the centre of Edinburgh, was built by William Henry Playfair in 1822-6 and extended in 1831-6 for the Board of Manufactures and Fisheries. Along with the adjacent National Gallery of Scotland, their neo-classical design helped transform Edinburgh into a modern-day Athens of the North.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is an art museum on Queen Street, Edinburgh. The gallery holds the national collections of portraits, all of which are of, but not necessarily by, Scots. It also holds the Scottish National Photography Collection.
The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) is the country’s national academy of art. It promotes contemporary Scottish art.
Sir John Watson Gordon was a Scottish portrait painter and president of the Royal Scottish Academy.
John Pettie was a painter from Edinburgh who spent most of his career in London. He became a member of the Royal Academy in 1866 and a full academician in 1874.
Diana and Actaeon is a painting by the Italian Renaissance master Titian, finished in 1556–1559, and is considered amongst Titian's greatest works. It portrays the moment in which the hunter Actaeon bursts in where the goddess Diana and her nymphs are bathing. Diana is furious, and will turn Actaeon into a stag, who is then pursued and killed by his own hounds, a scene Titian later painted in his The Death of Actaeon.
Diana and Callisto is a painting completed between 1556 and 1559 by the Italian late Renaissance artist Titian. It portrays the moment in which the goddess Diana discovers that her maid Callisto has become pregnant by Jupiter. The painting was jointly purchased by the National Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery for £45 million in March 2012. Along with its companion painting Diana and Actaeon it is displayed on an alternating basis between London and Edinburgh. There is a later version by Titian and his workshop in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.
George Watson was a Scottish portrait painter and the first president of the Royal Scottish Academy.
The Death of Actaeon is a late work by the Italian Renaissance painter Titian, painted in oil on canvas from about 1559 to his death in 1576 and now in the National Gallery in London. It is very probably one of the two paintings the artist stated he had started and hopes to finish in a letter to their commissioner Philip II of Spain during June 1559. However, most of Titian's work on this painting possibly dates to the late 1560s, but with touches from the 1570s. Titian seems never to have resolved it to his satisfaction, and the painting apparently remained in his studio until his death in 1576. There has been considerable debate as to whether it is finished or not, as with other very late Titians, such as the Flaying of Marsyas, which unlike this has a signature, perhaps an indication of completion.
The Orleans Collection was a very important collection of over 500 paintings formed by Philippe d'Orléans, Duke of Orléans, mostly acquired between about 1700 and his death in 1723. Apart from the great royal-become-national collections of Europe it is arguably the greatest private collection of Western art, especially Italian, ever assembled, and probably the most famous, helped by the fact that most of the collection has been accessible to the public since it was formed, whether in Paris, or subsequently in London, Edinburgh and elsewhere.
Charles Lees was a Scottish portrait painter who also specialised in sporting and recreational subjects.
George Fiddes Watt was a Scottish portrait painter and engraver.
Amelia Robertson Hill, birth record Emmilia McDermaid Paton, was a prominent Scottish artist and sculptor throughout the 19th century and one of the few with public commissions. Her most noteworthy works are the statue of David Livingstone in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh and statue of Robert Burns in Dumfries. She was the main female contributor to the statues on the Scott Monument, contributing three figures.
John Hutchison was a Scottish sculptor based in Edinburgh. He was the son of an unnamed builder, and his artistic life began as a thirteen-year-old woodcarving apprentice. He attended art school in the evenings, then later became a student at the Trustees Academy. and attracted the patronage of its owner, Patrick Allan Fraser, who gave him commissions to fund his study in Rome. Although after Rome he continued to enjoy ancient Roman sculptural themes, he remained in Edinburgh for the rest of his life, working in wood, clay and marble, and concentrating on portraiture of Scottish people, and images of Scottish myth and history. He created the bust of Sir Walter Scott in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. He was a successful artist who received commissions from Queen Victoria.
Perseus and Andromeda is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Titian, now in the Wallace Collection in London. It was painted in 1554–1556 as part of a series of mythological paintings called "poesie" ("poetry") intended for King Philip II of Spain. The paintings took subjects from the Roman poet Ovid's Metamorphoses, in this case Book IV, lines 663–752, and all featured female nudes.
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