About the Exhibition

This exhibition presents fifty-five paintings from the three institutions that make up the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh: The Scottish National Gallery, founded in 1850 and housed in an impressive neoclassical building designed by one of the country’s foremost architects, William Henry Playfair (1789–1857); the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which opened in 1889; and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which opened in 1960. Bringing masterpieces from these three separate museums into one presentation permits an experience that is possible only during their current tour. The paintings that were chosen for this exhibition include examples by some of the best-known and most accomplished European and American artists and span more than 400 years of art history, from the Renaissance to the modern age.

The Old Masters    See more images

Botticelli to Braque includes a variety of artists, periods, and styles, though each of the works is marked by its exceptional quality. The selection’s earliest paintings include primarily religious and mythological subjects: Sandro Botticelli’s serene Virgin and Child; the sensuous gods and goddesses by Titian and Veronese; and Rembrandt van Rijn’s beguiling A Woman in Bed of about 1645–46, which combines the sacred and the profane with a dramatic image of a woman in bed, perhaps representing the Old Testament bride Sarah. (Rembrandt’s canvas is part of an exceptional group of Dutch paintings of the Golden Age in the exhibition, including works by Frans Hals, Jan Lievens, Gerrit Dou and the young Johannes Vermeer.) Spain in the seventeenth century is evoked by El Greco’s enigmatic Fable—perhaps an allegory of artistic inspiration—and a moving depiction of an Old Woman Cooking Eggs by the young Diego Velázquez.

From Rococo to Enlightenment    See more images

In an exhibition encompassing a surprising range of periods, styles, and countries of origin, the eighteenth century occupies an important place. Jean-Antoine Watteau’s graceful dancers contrast with Thomas Gainsborough’s grand portraits, and Gainsborough’s English landscapes offer a rural counterpoint to the cosmopolitan view of the Piazza San Marco by Francesco Guardi. The great contribution of eighteenth-century Britons to the traditions of portraiture is exemplified in Sir Joshua Reynolds’s depiction of The Misses Waldegrave, an intriguing combination of intimacy and majesty.

Scots and Scotland    See more images

Among the featured paintings by Scotland’s paramount artists are several compositions celebrating the Scottish landscapes and its great citizens. Three of these works are by Sir Henry Raeburn, the leading portraitist of the Scottish Enlightenment. Raeburn’s direct and seemingly spontaneous style earned him a high standing among his contemporaries, despite his lack of a formal artistic education. Other examples by such compatriots as Allan Ramsay, Sir David Wilkie, William Dyce, and Sir Joseph Noel Paton further exemplify the unique subjects found in Scottish art, including depictions of traditional tartan dress, events from local histories, and familiar urban and rural sites. Sir Edwin Landseer, though an Englishman, made Scotland his most important subject and was the perfect artist to depict a story of national patriotism in times gone by.

The Modern World    See more images 

The collections of the National Galleries of Scotland are rich in masterworks from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. John Constable’s England is celebrated in a majestic landscape of the Vale of Dedham—his home country—purchased for the collection as war raged across the Channel. Two works of the 1890s demonstrate the divergence of styles that mark the period: the elegance of late Victorian Britain is captured in a portrait of a London beauty by an expatriate American—Lady Agnew of Lochnaw by John Singer Sargent, while Paul Gauguin’s Three Tahitians translates ancient myth into South Seas form. The exhibition concludes with works of abstract visual vocabularies from the early twentieth century: geometrically conceptualized Cubist still lifes by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso and the minimalist precision of Piet Mondrian’s Composition with Double Line and Yellow, 1932.

Displayed in the gentle light of the Renzo Piano Pavilion’s south gallery, the fifty-five masterworks from Edinburgh will bring Fort Worth viewers a remarkable opportunity to see the riches of Scotland’s three great national galleries united in one exceptional exhibition, spanning more than four hundred years of history and representing an impressive record of acquisitions made by the National Galleries of Scotland.