Thomas Warrender

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Thomas Warrender (fl. 16731713) was a Scottish artist best known for a trompe-l'oeil Still Life of a letter rack, probably painted around 1708, which is now in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery. [1]

Floruit, abbreviated fl., Latin for "he/she flourished", denotes a date or period during which a person was known to have been alive or active. In English, the word may also be used as a noun indicating the time when someone "flourished".

Scottish National Gallery part of National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh

The Scottish National Gallery 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.



Warrender mainly worked as a decorative painter, and his Still Life indicates he came from Haddington, East Lothian, Scotland and was a burgess and guild-member both in Haddington and Edinburgh. [2] He was active in Edinburgh, seemingly participating in the political debates of the time as well as painting. [3] He may also have taught the painter James Norie (1684-1757) whose work resembled Warrender's. [2]

Haddington, East Lothian town in East Lothian, Scotland

The Royal Burgh of Haddington is a town in East Lothian, Scotland. It is the main administrative, cultural and geographical centre for East Lothian, which as a result of late-nineteenth century Scottish local government reforms took the form of the county of Haddingtonshire for the period from 1889-1921. It lies about 17 miles (27 km) east of Edinburgh. The name Haddington is Anglo-Saxon, dating from the sixth or seventh century AD when the area was incorporated into the kingdom of Bernicia. The town, like the rest of the Lothian region, was ceded by King Edgar of England and became part of Scotland in the tenth century. Haddington received burghal status, one of the earliest to do so, during the reign of David I (1124–1153), giving it trading rights which encouraged its growth into a market town.

Edinburgh City and council area in Scotland

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian, it is located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore.

Still Life

The Still Life depicts a number of pamphlets and newspapers pinned to a board, along with writing material. It bears a strong resemblance to similar works by the Dutch artist Evert Collier. Marion Amblard suggests that Warrender would have seen work by Collier in the collections of wealthy Scots. [4] Dror Wahrman considers it a copy of Collier, and suggests the date of the work - 1708 at the earliest based on dated printed material shown in the picture - means it was painted after Collier's last known work. [3] The work seems to allude to contemporary political issues, such as the 1707 Act of Union between Scotland and England, symbolised by overlapping playing cards, and refers disparagingly to Roman Catholicism, by reference to the National Covenant and the dangers of popery. [5]

Evert Collier painter from the Northern Netherlands

Evert Collier was a Dutch Golden Age still-life painter known for vanitas and trompe-l'œil paintings. His first name is sometimes spelled "Edward" or "Edwaert" or "Eduwaert" or "Edwart," and his last name is sometimes spelled "Colyer" or "Kollier".

Acts of Union 1707

The Acts of Union were two Acts of Parliament: the Union with Scotland Act 1706 passed by the Parliament of England, and the Union with England Act passed in 1707 by the Parliament of Scotland. They put into effect the terms of the Treaty of Union that had been agreed on 22 July 1706, following negotiation between commissioners representing the parliaments of the two countries. By the two Acts, the Kingdom of England and the Kingdom of Scotland—which at the time were separate states with separate legislatures, but with the same monarch—were, in the words of the Treaty, "United into One Kingdom by the Name of Great Britain".

John Walter sees the work as demonstrating changes in British society from the late seventeenth century, with the increasing availability of printed material leading to growing debate in print. [6]

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  1. "Thomas Warrender - Still Life". Scottish National Galleries. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  2. 1 2 MacMillan, Duncan (2000). Scottish Art 1460-2000. Mainstream. p. 78.
  3. 1 2 Wahrman, Dror (2012). Mr. Collier's Letter Racks: A Tale of Art and Illusion at the Threshold of the Modern Information Age. Oxford University Press. p. 314.
  4. Amblard, Marion (2012). "The Scottish painters' exile in Italy in the eighteenth century". Etudes Ecossaises. 13: 59–77.
  5. "Dead Standing Things: still life 1660-1740". University of York. 2012. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  6. Walter, John (1996). "The Commons and their Mental Worlds". In John Stephen Morrill. The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor & Stuart Britain. OUP. pp. 214–215.