Scotland awaits...

November 26 2011

Image of Scotland awaits...

Picture: Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is to reopen next week after a £17.6 million renovation. The gallery officially opens on 1st December - but as ever Art History News readers will get a sneak preview! I've been lucky enough to secure a guided tour on Monday, and I will report back to you on Tuesday.

In the meantime, over in The Scotsman Tim Cornwell has the full and fascinating story on the Scottish National Portrait Gallery's battle for survival some twenty years ago, when there was a dastardly plan to close the gallery, and move the collection to Glasgow. The trustees of the Scottish National Galleries wanted to create a seperate gallery of Scottish art. I wasn't aware just how close it came, but in the end the day was won by the Portrait Gallery's supporters, and the gallery's then director, Dr. Duncan Thomson. And now Duncan, one of the great figures in Scottish art history, has published a new history of the Portrait Gallery, which you can buy here

Anyway, here's a little Scottish history for you: the portrait above shows a tartan-clad Bonnie Prince Charlie by William Mosman. On this day in 1745 Charles entered Preston, in Lancashire, at the head of his Scottish army, and pronouced his father, James III, King, apparently to 'the loudest acclamation of the people you can imagine'. Sadly for some, Charles ended his invasion when he turned back from Derby, and was eventually defeated at the Battle of Culloden. His portrait now will be one of the stars of the new Scottish National Portrait Gallery - and let's hope that next week it is once again greeted with the loudest acclamation of the people you can imagine.

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