Artists in Edinburgh

Eduardosculpture Capital Collection D

(Image Credit: City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)


From works of portraiture to landscape, still life and mythology – Edinburgh has been home to, or place of study, for several inspirational and ground-breaking artists, whose work has decorated the walls of galleries worldwide:


Allan Ramsay (1713-1784)

Katherine Hall Of Dunglass Portrait By Allan Ramsay Capital Collections

(Image Credit: Katherine Hall of Dunglass Portrait by Allan Ramsay - City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)

Considered to be Scotland's greatest portrait painter, Edinburgh-born and educated Allan Ramsay toured Italy and settled in London where he became Principal Painter in Ordinary to George III.

With a natural style that conveyed the warmth and personality of his subjects, he was very much in demand as a portraitist of Edinburgh’s elite society.


Alexander Runciman (1736 – 1785)

Born in Edinburgh, and trained at the Foulis Academy in Glasgow, Runciman was a landscape painter, who also worked as a stage painter for the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh.

Favouring romantic landscapes and historical scenes, he was responsible for several mural paintings in and around Edinburgh.

He was an important figure in the education of artists, becoming master of the Trustees' Academy, the forerunner of the Edinburgh School of Art.


Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823)

Henry Raeburn Capital Collections

(Image Credit: City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)

First apprenticed as a jeweller, Raeburn was almost exclusively a portraitist, and one of the first major Scottish painter to work largely in Scotland itself, mainly in Edinburgh.

He was appointed to the Royal Academy in 1815, and was knighted by George lV in 1822, and soon after appointed 'His Majesty's Limner' (miniature portraitist) for Scotland.

His small full-length portrait of The Rev Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch of about 1784 is probably his most famous work, and today hangs in the National Gallery of Scotland.


Alexander Naysmith (1758 – 1840)

Robert Burns Portrait By Alexander Naysmith Capital Collections

(Image Credit: Robert Burns Portrait by Alexander Naysmith - City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)

Often referred to as the founder of Scottish landscape painting, Naysmith started his career as a pupil and assistant of Allan Ramsay, where he initially first started producing portraits, like his tutor.

It was when he spent time in Italy that he became interested in landscape painting, turning to it more and more after his return to Edinburgh.

One of his most famous works, however, is the portrait of his friend, the poet Robert Burns (pictured).

He was also an accomplished engineer, designing and building several bridges, as well as an influential teacher, inspiring many younger artists, including his own children.


Sir David Wilkie (1785–1841)

Born in Fife, the son of a rural minister, Wilkie began his formal artistic training at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh when he was fifteen.

He painted a wide variety of genres, including historical scenes, portraits and scenes from his travels to Europe and the Middle East.

Wilkie moved to London in 1805 and became a full member of the Royal Academy in 1811, was appointed Painter to the King in 1830 and was knighted in 1836.


Horatio McCulloch (1805 – 1867)

Horatio Mcculloch Esq Capital Collections

(Image Credit: City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)

Born in Glasgow, McCulloch’s landscape paintings celebrate the romantic scenery of the Scottish Highlands and were influenced by the work of Sir Walter Scott.

On his election as full Academician of the Scottish Academy in 1838, he settled in Edinburgh and soon became a prominent figure in the artistic life of the capital and a prolific contributor to the Royal Scottish Academy exhibitions.

He also recorded the crumbling houses of Edinburgh's Old Town and was one of the first artists to focus on the urban and industrial landscape of Scotland.


Phoebe Anna Traquair (1852 – 1936)

Traquair Murals In Bellevue Reformed Baptist Church Formerly Catholic Apostolic East London Street

(Image Credit: Detail of a Phoebe Traquair mural in the Bellevue Reformed Baptist Church - City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)

Born Phoebe Anna Moss near Dublin in 1852 but moved to Edinburgh in 1873 after her marriage to Dr Ramsay Traquair, Keeper of Natural History at the Royal Scottish Museum, Traquair was a leading figure within the Scottish Arts and Crafts movement.

She became the first woman member of the Scottish Royal Academy in Edinburgh, reflecting her status as a leading professional designer at a time when art and design were still dominated by men.

She produced an enormous amount of work and was skilled in enamelling, book binding, embroidery, illustrated manuscripts, quilting and mural painting. Her famous mural paintings still adorn the walls of The Mansfield Traquair Centre, St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.


John Duncan (1866 – 1945)

91 Witches Well Hero

A leading representative of the Celtic Revival in Scottish art, Duncan first trained as an illustrator in his native Dundee.

In 1892 he moved to Edinburgh to work with the sociologist, botanist and urbanist Sir Patrick Geddes, painting murals for Geddes's halls of residence at Ramsay Garden. He also became the principal artist for Geddes' 1895-97 seasonal magazine "The Evergreen".

Commissioned by Geddes in 1894, Duncan also designed The Witches' Well (pictured), a commemorative well to over 300 women, burned in Edinburgh for suspected witchcraft

Learn more about the Witches Well> 


Anne Redpath (1895 – 1965)

Black And White Checks

(Image Credit: City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)

Born in Galashiels and studied at Edinburgh College of Art, Redpath is most well known for her vivid still life’s, painted in rich colours.

She was president of the Scottish Society of Women Artists from 1944 to 1947 and was admitted as an associate of The Royal Scottish Academy in 1947.

In 1955, she was made an OBE for her work with Edinburgh College of Art.


Sir Eduardo Paolozzi (1924 – 2005)

Eduardo Paolozzi At Work

(Image Credit: City of Edinburgh Council - Libraries - Capital Collection)

Widely considered to be one of the pioneers of pop art, Paolozzi was born in Leith, the eldest son of Italian immigrants.

He studied in Edinburgh and London and spent two years in Paris from 1947, where he produced enigmatic, bronze sculptures, as well as Dada and surrealist-inspired collages in which magazine advertisements, cartoons and machine parts are combined to form one image.

He was promoted to the office of Her Majesty's Sculptor in Ordinary for Scotland in 1986, which he held until his death and was knighted in 1989.

Today, his Manuscript of Monte Cassino (pictured) depicting an open palm, a section of limb and a human foot can be found at the top of the city’s Leith Walk.



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