The National Galleries of Scotland holds the national collection of Scottish art, the most important of its kind in the world.

My cousin who lives in Australia emailed me an amazing link to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street, Edinburgh, Scotland.

The gallery which originally opened in 1889 was closed from 2009 to 2011 for a major renovation. This refurbishment included the improvement of a frieze that goes around the Main Hall of the Gallery located below the first-floor balustrade.

The frieze depicts, in chronological order, 155 men and women deemed in the late 19th century, to the most significant in Scottish history. Although some may argue about who should be included, it’s most interesting to see the various figures in Scottish history among their contemporaries.

Most are well-known to Scots, but others may prompt a web search to find out who they were and their contribution to  history.

“Although photography is not allowed in the rest of the National Portrait Gallery, it is permitted in the main hall so I’ve been able to create a Web page in chronological sequence (running backwards in time) of the figures in the paintings. Their names are printed on the frieze but I’ve added below each picture a list of the characters and what made them famous. It’s fascinating to see Adam Smith, the political economist and historian or philosopher David Hume, within touching distance, chronologically, of Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobites!” (At this point I’m unable  to give credit to the owner of the web page because unsure about who owns the content).

Being Scottish born is much more than a Nationality, it’s a state of mind: A way of viewing the world. I’ve recommended Arthur Herman’s book How the Scots Invented the Modern World on this site before. It is a worthwhile read and no tongue-in-cheek Saturday Night Live skit.

Click on Rampant Scotland to visit the website and view the beautiful frieze.

For a more comprehensive list of famous Scots with short and concise biographies, click on  More Famous Scots. You might be surprised to see who’s on the list.

The graphic above which provides a very small view of the frieze has a link to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.


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2 Comments on Portrait of a Nation

  1. LInda Gartz says:

    I haven’t been to Scotland in almost 30 years (!) but when I go again (and I will) I’ll definitely pay a visit. Looks amazing!

  2. Linda R. says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s terrific that you write about Scottish history.It’s all fascinating.

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