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Indepth Arts News:

"Thomas Carlyle: A Hero of His Time"
2001-03-02 until 2001-06-03
Scottish National Portrait Gallery
Edinburgh, , UK United Kingdom

One of the great masterpieces of early modern portraiture, James Abbot McNeill Whistler's Arrangement in Grey and Black No 2 (1872-3), will form the centrepiece of a new exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The subject of this magnificent painting, lent generously by Glasgow Museums and Art Galleries, is the great Scottish historian, essayist and social commentator, Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881), whose belief in the importance of national heroes inspired the creation of the National Portrait Galleries in London and Edinburgh.

Born in Ecclefechan, the son of a stonemason, Carlyle was educated at Edinburgh University and became one of the most prolific and influential writers of the nineteenth century. A man of passionate convictions, he was regarded by his contemporaries as something of a prophet, and is remembered as an advocate of social reform. In 1826 Carlyle married the beautiful and brilliant Jane Baillie Welsh (1801-1866), whose genius has long been overshadowed by her husbandís. Most of their married life was spent in London, where their house in Chelsea became a place of pilgrimage for intellectuals from all over Europe.

Fittingly, for a man with such influential views on portraiture, there are numerous representations of Carlyle. A Hero of his Time includes a range of portraits by artists such as Walter Greaves, John Linnell and Julia Margaret Cameron. Also featured is a stunning miniature of Jane Carlyle, by Kenneth Macleay.

The distinguished actor Tom Fleming will make a rare appearance as Thomas Carlyle at the only public performance of a dramatised reading of Carlyle's writings on portraiture. An Evening with Carlyle will take place at the Gallery at 6.30 p.m. on Saturday 7 April, and the performance will be preceded by an opportunity to view the exhibition, with a glass of wine. Tickets will be available from Portrait Gallery Bookshop, price £12 (telephone 0131 624 6418).

The Portrait Gallery will also host An Evening with Whistler on Friday 1 June. Following the success of his performances as John Ruskin in 1999 and 2000, Paul O'Keeffe returns to the gallery to re-enact Whistler's famous 10 O'Clock Lecture. Again the performance will be from 6.30 - 7.30 p.m., with tickets available from the Bookshop, price £12.

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