The Scottish National Portrait Gallery opened on Queen Street in 1889 and is the world’s first purpose-built portrait gallery. It houses thousands of images of famous and not-so famous Scots, including many writers like Robert Louis Stevenson, Ian Rankin, Dame Muriel Spark and, of course, Sir Walter Scott.
The most famous is probably the 1822 portrait by Sir Henry Raeburn, a classic portrait which has become almost the standard image of Scott.It shows him at the peak of his career, a worldwide bestselling author – but only four years after it was painted, Scott’s life began to fall apart and he found himself having to write his way out of bankruptcy. This portrait is also one of the last Raeburn ever worked on, the artist dying only days after its completion.
As well as portraits of Scott, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery also has images of friends and family of Scott, of Blackwood the publisher and of Steell who sculpted the statue for the Scott Monument and George Meikle Kemp who designed the Monument itself. Unfortunately not all the portraits are on display at the same time, but you can see them online and check if they are on display on the Gallery’s website.