scottish museum

John Singer Sargent (1856-1925)
“Lady Agnew of Lochna” (1892-1893)
Oil on canvas
Located in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

Andrew Noel Agnew, a barrister who had inherited the baronetcy and estates of Lochnaw in Galloway, commissioned this painting of his young wife, Gertrude Vernon (1865-1932), in 1892. It was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1898 and put Sargent on the map. The sculptor Auguste Rodin described him as ‘the Van Dyck of our times.’ Portrait commissions poured in and Sargent enjoyed something of a cult following in Edwardian society. It also launched Lady Agnew as a society beauty.


Pictish, Celtic and Norse Influenced prehistoric artefacts from the Scottish Isles, The National Museum of Scotland, 24.2.17.

Silver Pocket Watch from Scotland dated to 1615 on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

Made by the famous Scottish watchmaker David Ramsay who moved to England with King James VI/I and was probably gifted by James to his favourite at the time, the Earl of Somerset. It is recorded that James fell for the young Earl of Somerset, then Robert Carr, when he was injured at a Joust.

The interior of the lid bears the Order of the Garter motto Honi soit qui mal y pense which in Old French can translate to “Shame be to him who thinks evil of it.”


Claymore from Scotland dated to the early 16th Century on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

The sword is in the traditional Gaelic style used in the Hiberno-Norse peoples in the Western Isles of Scotland and Northern Ireland and bears the letters IHS on both sides of the blade. IHS is a common Christogram which often means either  Iesus Humilis Societas (Humble Society of Jesus) or Iesus Hominum Salvator (Jesus, Savior of men). However it could also mean In Hoc Signo (Vinces) which translates to “In this sign (you will win)”


Gustave Doré, Landscape paintings of the Scottish Highlands (1873-1879).

It is thought that the legend of a Fur-Bearing Trout existing began when a Scottish settler in Canada wrote back to his home. In his letter, he explained that there were many species of “furried animals and fish”. His family, puzzled at the though, requested more information about this furry fish. According to the legend, the settler sent a specimen back to his family. In the Royal Scottish Museum, there hangs a mounted Fur-Bearing Trout that is said to have been caught in Lake Superior. 

John Everett Millais (1829-1896)
“Sweetest eyes that were ever seen”
Located in the Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland

The title is a quote from a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning “Catarina to Camoens.”

ON the door you will not enter
I have gazed too long: adieu!
Hope withdraws her “peradventure”;
Death is near me,—and not you!
Come, O lover,
Close and cover
These poor eyes you called, I ween,
“Sweetest eyes were ever seen!”


Uniforms of Edinburgh Castle Regimental and Army Museums 

½. Royal Horse Artillery dress uniform and a selection of Shakos, Helmets and Dolmans of Scottish Yeomanry regiments.

3. Polish 1st Armoured Division uniform that was stationed in Scotland during the Second World War.

4. Doublet of a pioneer from a Highland Regiment.

5. Officers tunic of the Highland Light Infantry.

6.Tunic of an 18th Century Highland Infantryman.

7/8. Dress uniform of the 42nd Regiment of Foot (Black Watch) worn during the handover of Hong Kong to the Peoples Republic of China.

9. Officers tunic of the Royal Scots regiment.

10. Dress uniform of the Special Air Service (Captain).


The more things change, the more they stay the same

Sir John Soane’s Museum, located in the heart of London at the architect’s former residence, is a beautifully preserved snapshot of 19th century British antiquarianism and collecting. Soane published what could be called an early guidebook to his house and collection in 1835, full of engravings of numerous treasure-filled rooms. The library of the Royal Scottish Academy holds a copy of one of these rare books (only 150 total were printed), made even more special by the fact that Soane himself signed and inscribed it.

It really is amazing to see how little has changed in the museum since the publication of the book- if the ghost of John Soane took to haunting the halls of the museum, I’m sure he would find his favorite artifacts right where he left them!

(L.2016.336 at the RSA library)

Scottish national museum has an exhibition of Jacobitism. Feck all mention of Gaelic though. Not like it’s incredibly important to Gaelic culture or the event had a huge impact on Gaelic in the Highlands….


Long Guns from Scotland dated late 17th Century on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

The above is a breech-loading rifle signed GS for William (Guliemus in Latin) Smith and dated 1686. Below it is a musket, also signed GS dated 1675.

Long guns were used for hunting rather than warfare and these ones were used by the Lairds of Grant and attributed to the work of William Smith, gunsmith in Duthel, Inverness-shire, who in 1675 was granted a lease in return for acting as the clan’s armourer.

The guns have snaphance locks favoured by Scottish gunsmiths during the 17th and 18th Century. Rifles, especially early breech loaders such as the one above, were incredibly expensive and were a great show of wealth.


Ornate Brooch excavated at Hunterston in Scotland from the Mid 8th Century CE on display at the National Museums of Scotland in Edinburgh

It is thought to have been made at a Royal Site such as Dunadd, the Hillfort metioned in the Annals of Ulster and supposedly the capital of the Kingdom of the Dál Riata. The skill of the jeweller can be seen in the familiarity of the use of Anglo-Saxon, Irish and Irish-Scottish techniques in decorating the metalwork of silver and gold with amber and other precious metals.

It was most likely a gift from one ruler to another either as a sign of friendship or of peace perhaps. It is a sign of not only material culture being used to symbolise status and rank but also the importance of trained and skilled manufacturers in society.


Gallery Visit • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art • 9th September 2017

One of the (many) good things about studying in the Scottish Borders is the easy access to Edinburgh. I headed straight to The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Nathan Coley’s “The Lamp of Sacrifice, 286 Places of Worship, Edinburgh 2004″ (image 7) was beautiful to photograph. A delight to witness, but even more fun to capture. Shapes on shapes.

The entire establishment is a must-do for any contemporary creator, designer or artist.