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"Rosslyn: Country Of Painter And Poet"
2002-04-11 until 2002-07-07
National Gallery of Scotland
Edinburgh, , UK United Kingdom

The legend and intrigue that has surrounded Rosslyn for centuries has been an inspiration for some of the greatest figures in British art and literature. This exhibition, the first ever devoted to the subject, will celebrate the natural beauty and romance of this mystical location, which has been proposed at various times as the repository for the lost scrolls of Solomon’s Temple and the Holy Grail.

For over 200 years, Rosslyn has attracted countless artists, writers and antiquaries and by the nineteenth century the Castle, Chapel and Glen were placed firmly on the tourist map of Scotland.

The chapel was built in 1446 by Sir William St. Clair, the third and last Prince of Orkney and head of one of Scotland’s most powerful dynasties, with ancestral links to William the Conqueror and Robert the Bruce. Today, the Chapel and Castle are in the ownership of the Earls of Rosslyn. In 1996 a charitable trust was established to oversee the continuing programme of conservation at the Chapel, with the Earl of Rosslyn as Chairman of the Trustees. In 1441, James II granted the St. Clairs the position of hereditary Grand Master Mason of Scotland. This exhibition will explore the architecture and mysteries of the Chapel, famed for its association through the Rosslyn Lords with the Templar Knights and the foundation of Scottish Freemasonry.

One of the leading themes of the exhibition will be the architectural development of Rosslyn Chapel. Through a comparison of images by figures such as William Delacour, first Master of the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh, Joseph Michael Gandy, architectural draughtsman to Sir John Soane, and the eminent writer and cultural critic John Ruskin, the show will investigate how the building was conceived by its founder, and what it came to represent for later generations of travellers, artists and writers.

The exhibition will also illustrate the changing response of painters and poets to the picturesque setting of Rosslyn, from the mid-eighteenth to the nineteenth centuries, and will consider the effects of its increasing accessibility by coach and train from Edinburgh. Among the countless artists, writers and photographers who were inspired by the area were J.M.W. Turner, Alexander Nasmyth, William McTaggart, Paul Sandby, Joseph Farington, Thomas Hearne, Hugh ‘Grecian’ Williams, David Roberts, Julius Caesar Ibbetson, the Rev John Thomson of Duddingston, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, David Octavius Hill and Roger Fenton. Many of the works have been traced to private collections and have never before been placed on public display. One of the highlights is a rediscovered painting by Louis Daguerre, the pioneer of photography famed for the invention of the ‘Daguerrotype’ process. This remarkable painting depicts the interior of Rosslyn Chapel and was first shown at the Paris Salon in 1824. The picture relates to a spectacular Diorama, which is now lost.

image:
George Shepherd (1770-1842) after J.M. Gandy,
The Prentice Pillar, 1809,
Watercolour,
Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


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