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Art in Scotland
Chapter XVI


THE National Gallery of Scotland, as already said, was built in connection with the Royal Scottish Academy, by funds at the disposal of the Board of Trustees for Manufactures, assisted by a grant from Government in 1850, previous to which the Royal Institution possessed some, and had the custody of other pictures, which formed the nucleus of the present collection. The galleries at present (1887) contain in all 604 works of art, exclusive of loans for fixed periods, and may be said to include five collections, under the management of the Board, consisting of: first, 68 works, chiefly by the old masters, collected by the directors of the Royal Institution, and first exhibited in 1831; second, 47 works, including pictures by the old masters, bronzes, &c., bequeathed to the College of Edinburgh in 1836 by Sir James Torrie of Erskine, and in 1845 removed and deposited with the Board under a deed of agreement; third, 209 works, chiefly modern, collected since 1829 by the Royal Scottish Academy, which include the 61 drawings forming the Lewis collection; fourth, 262 works, chiefly ancient, purchased by or gifted to the Board of Manufactures, which include the 26 drawings from the old masters by Sanders; fifth, 18 modern pictures, purchased and deposited by the Royal Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland, in terms of their charter. Ten pictures on loan are at present in the galleries; and the Royal Review of x86o by Sam Bough, with David Scott's Paracelsus the Alchemist Lecturing, have just been permanently added. Of these works 40 are sculptures, including bronzes and wax models by Michael Angelo, a case of 31 small marbles and bronzes, and three cases of medallions by Tassie. The collection of water-colour drawings by J. C. Lewis, from pictures by the most eminent old masters in the Spanish galleries, made about 1832, were purchased by the Academy in 1853, and, in addition to Velasquez and other Spanish masters, contains sketches from some of the best of the old Italian and Flemish pictures. The 26 similar class of sketches by George Sanders were bequeathed to the Board, along with medallion portraits, &c., by William Tassie, nephew of the well-known gem-engraver, in 186o; and the Scott bequest of ioo drawings by modern British artists were deposited by the Board in 1864. The latter were bequeathed verbally by the late John Scott, Esq., of Messrs Colnaghi, Scott, & Co., of London, and the bequest was liberally carried out by his widow. Other donors of important works are Sir H. H. Campbell, Bart., Lady Murray, Sir J. Watson Gordon, Lady Ruthven, Mrs Williams, &c. When the Gallery was opened in its present premises on the 22d March 1859, the collection numbered 150 works.

Among the numerous attractions of this important collection it is almost impossible to select such as are pre-eminent within any limit short of a hand-book. Among the modern works the five great canvases by William Etty are the most important productions of that eminent painter. The leading artists of the Scottish school are nearly all represented, efforts being made very wisely to secure specimens of the older men when opportunities occur: it is desirable that the collection should include specimens of Jameson and Gavin Hamilton in painting, and the Ritchies, T. Campbell, and L. Macdonald in sculpture. The works by the old masters are almost uniformly well selected.

One of the chief attractions of the galleries is the exquisite portrait of the beautiful Mrs Graham by Gainsborough, whom the poet Burns eulogised in a letter to Mr Walker of Blair-Athole in 1787, and to which a melancholy and romantic interest is attached. She was the second of three daughters of Lord Cathcart (born 1757), one of whom became Duchess of Athole, all remarkable for their beauty, and unfortunate in having died in comparative youth, one of them at least from consumption. She was married to Lord Lynedoch, then a quietly living country gentleman bearing the name and designation of Thomas Graham of Balgowan, and after several years of a happy but childless life, died in 1792, in the very noon of life and beauty. The French war broke out soon after this, and although now in middle life, being some eight years her senior, Mr Graham, in order to beguile his mind from the loss which he had sustained, became a soldier. In the course of his chivalrous career he commanded the British troops at the battle of Barossa, was raised to the peerage as Lord Lynedoch, and died in 1843, at the age of ninety-five. Although he is said to have had nothing of the recluse about him, being cheerful, and even fond of society, he could never make up his mind to look at the portrait of his lovely wife, which shortly after her death he carefully locked up and deposited in the custody of a person in London, where it remained unopened till his decease, a period of about fifty years, during which none of his friends ventured to allude to the picture. After his death search was made, and on its recovery it was exhibited at the exhibition of the British Institution in 1848, where it attracted universal admiration. It had been entailed by Lord Lynedoch; but Mr Robert Graham, of Redgorton in Perthshire, by whom it was bequeathed to the Gallery (who died on the 11th March 1859), being exceedingly anxious to secure it for this purpose, arranged with the next heir of entail to pay such a sum as it might be valued at by Mr T. Nisbet of Edinburgh, and which was fixed at £2000. Among the other modern treasures of the galleries are splendid portraits by Rae- burn, Dyce, &c.; I)uncan's Anne Page and Slender; MacCulloch's Inverlochy Castle; Sir J. Noel Paton's two fairy pictures from the "Midsummer Night's Dream."

Prominent among the works by the old masters is the Lomellini Family by Vandyke—nine feet square—one of the most important works of that master. It was one of the purchases made by the late Andrew Wilson from the Marchese Luigi Lomellini, and was formerly in a state of good preservation, but has suffered very severely from restoration. Dr Waagen remarked on examining it, "That whoever looks at a picture for something more than a name, can only derive a very painful impression from it." The Doctor mentions especially that the girl, which was one of the finest portions of the picture, has been almost quite destroyed but the present appearance of the picture hardly justifies his severe strictures. Probably the time, now nearly half a century, which has elapsed since his visit to Edinburgh, has done much to tone down the work of the restorer. The same artist's Martyrdom of St Sebastian, nearly as important in size, was purchased at Genoa from the Balbi family, and is a noble example of Vandyke's earlier period, when he coloured more in the manner of Rubens, although this also has been to a slight extent subjected to the operation of the restorer. A landscape by Titian, not in the very best style of that master, possesses an interest in the probability of it having belonged to Charles V. It was purchased from the Duke of Vivalda-Pasqua. Bassano is worthily represented by a noble portrait of a Senator, from the collection of the Duke of Grimaldi. A small portrait by Giorgione has the same ancestry. Other fine works by Guercino, Bonifazio, Greuze, Ruysdael, Snyders, &c., add to the value of a very splendid collection, worthy of the city in which it is located.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which as yet may be said to be only in its youth, resulted from an offer of £io,000 by an anonymous donor in aid of such an institution, conditionally that a like sum would be granted by Government. This offer was communicated to the Board of Manufactures by the president of the Royal Scottish Academy on the 7th December 1882. The second £10,000 was soon afterwards voted by Parliament. In May 1884, the same munificent donor offered a further sum of £20,000 for the purpose of erecting a building to accommodate the Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of Antiquities, conditionally that a suitable site should be provided. This condition was fulfilled by means of a further grant of 65000 from Parliament and £2500 from the Board of Manufactures. As a first movement towards inaugurating the scheme, a loan exhibition of Scottish portraits was opened in the National Galleries during the autumn of 1884, under the management of the Board, which contained over 700 exhibits, consisting of busts, medallions, paintings, and a few engravings. The series ranged from the earliest-known portraits to those of individuals recently deceased, and was the most complete historical collection of Scottish portraits ever gathered together. It included the portraits of James V. and Mary of Guise, already alluded to; the FraserTytler portrait of Queen Mary, from the National Portrait Gallery in London; various portraits of James VI., his queen, his son Prince Henry; and the Hospital portrait of George Heriot, besides many of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Among the others may be mentioned the Regent Arran, attributed to Zucchero, but more probably by Sir A. More; small portraits by the latter of Mark Kerr, Abbot of Newbattle, and his wife; James IV. and Margaret Tudor, by Holbein; Lady Napier, wife of the first Lord Napier, by Jamesone (?); besides works by Garraud, Vandyke, Lely, Medina, Reynolds, Romney, Geddes, &c., some of which are now permanently located in the collection.

On the 15th July 1889, the new Scottish National Portrait Gallery was formally opened by the Marquis of Lothian, Secretary for Scotland, with a number of noblemen and gentlemen, including the "anonymous" donor, Mr John Ritchie Findlay, whose further donations had increased his gift to about JJ50,000. The Gallery then possessed 324 portraits, besides having the custody of 71 others granted on loan. The collection includes such portraits as Kneller's second Lord Belhaven, so famous for his speech In the Scots Parliament; Sir John Fletcher, who in 1661 conducted the State prosecution against the Marquis of Argyll; Hamilton of Bangour; Lieutenant-General Sir Neil Douglas, who fought at Quatre Bras and Waterloo; Raeburn's first Lord Melville, Lords Hailes and Kames; &c., &c.

At the close of the last and beginning of the present century several private collections of works by the old masters were formed in Scotland. At Hopetoun House, the seat of Lord Hopetoun, are some good specimens of the Italian and Netherlandish schools, the chief attraction of which is an Adoration of the Shepherds by Rubens, containing eight life-sized figures. It was purchased by Lord Hopetoun in Genoa for £i000. At Dalkeith Palace are fine examples of Titian, Vandyke, Claude, Ruysdael, and Rembrandt. Sir A. Campbell, Bart. of Garscube, possesses a moderate number of good pictures, which were collected early in the century. Among these are several specimens of the Netherlandish school; but the strength of the collection consists of pictures by the Italian masters, the chief works being an altar-piece attributed to Bonvicino (Ii Moretto), which was purchased from the Swedish sculptor Byström on the recommendation of Andrew Wilson in 1827, and a fine Virgin and Joseph adoring the Infant Saviour, purchased in Italy by James Irvine for Sir William Forbes, and sold by his son to the then proprietor of Garscube for £800.' The late Mr Dennistoun, author of 'The Dukes of Urbino,' possessed a few old masters, including two small works by Fiesole (one very fine), a portrait of Tasso by Alessandro Alluri, an altar-piece by Gregorio Schiavone, works by Giovanni Santi, Cima da Conegliano, &c. The most important private collection of such works, however, was that at Hamilton Palace, many of which have been sold. This collection formerly included a fine portrait of Philip IV. of Spain by Velasquez, an altar - painting containing ten figures by Luca Signorelli, Pope Clement VII. by Sebastian del Piombo, a whole-length of Napoleon and a portrait of the same Duchess of Hamilton whom Gavin Hamilton painted, by David. Among the pictures which were sold was also Rubens' Daniel in the Den of Lions. It brought £5000, and was repurchased recently for its old place in the ducal collection for £3000. The latter picture, measuring seven feet and a half high by nearly eleven feet wide, was formerly in the collection of Charles I., to whom it was presented by Lord Dorchester. It is one of the very few great pictures known to be entirely by the hand of the great Fleming, and is well known by the numerous engravings. A few works by the old masters have been retained, chief among which is a large altar-piece from Italy, probably by Girolamo da Libri.

At Langton House, near Duns, the seat of the Hon. R. Baillie and Lady Hamilton, there is a fine collection, which passed into that house from Taymouth Castle. It contains good representative works of various schools, among which may be mentioned the exceedingly interesting boy's head engraved in Dennistoun's 'Dukes of Urbino,' with its curious inscription of "Giov. Sanzio," and the date of Raphael's birth; a Madonna and Child by Lorenzo di Credi; two panels of an Annunciation by Luini; a large battle-piece by Salvator Rosa; and the Feast of Herod by Rubens, purchased in Rome at the Palazzo Farnese by the second Marquis of Breadalbane. In the same collection are good works by Velasquez, Ribera, Vandyke, &c.; numerous portraits by Jamesone, the best of which is that of a boy in a grey dress, inscribed "John, Lord Leslie, 1636," and a full-length life-size of a figure in Highland costume hung opposite Raeburn's characteristic Chief of the vIacnabs. There is also a capital female head by Allan Ramsay, another by Gainsborough, and specimens of Mercier, Morland, &c.

The difficulty of procuring first-rate specimens of the old masters prevents any such galleries from now being formed; but the great number of enthusiastic collectors of modern paintings in Scotland is proof that the taste for art is still increasing. The most important of these was the late Mr Graham of Skelmorlie, the sale of whose collection, after his death, was one of the most notable recorded for many years past.


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