scottish museum of national art

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.

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.”


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

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!”


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)”


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. 


Carved Stone of a Hunting Scene excavated in Scotland dated from the 8th Century on display at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh

The aristocratic deer hunt was an incredibly popular scene on Pictish carved stones in 8th century Scotland. It celebrated the status of the person who commissioned the monument and were stylised to enhance their status. Here a hunting dog brings down a stag wounded by a spear thrown by a man on horseback. Two other mounted men, armed with spears, and a hunting dog are part of the chase. 

When Children Are Asleep (1885). Thomas Faed (Scottish, 1826-1900). Oil on canvas. National Museums Liverpool, Walker Art Gallery.

Based on a clipping in Faed’s papers, inspiration may have come from popular ballad, “When the children are asleep.” First Line: “Ere the night has ended day.” R. March and Co., London, between 1877 and 1884.