Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Scottish National Portrait Gallery
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD
  • Telephone 0131 624 6200
  • Opening times Mon–Wed & Fri–Sun 10am–5pm; Thu 10am–7pm.
  • Email
  • Website www.nationalgalleries.org/visit/…

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Modelled on the Doges Palace in Venice, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has an impressive gothic red sandstone façade designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. As well as classical subjects such as Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie, the gallery is home to more contemporary Scottish portraits, such as those of Sean Connery (by John Bellany), Robbie Coltrane and Tilda Swinton (both John Byrne, whose self-portrait is also at the gallery). In 2009, the gallery was closed for the first major refurbishment in its 120- year history, re-opening to great acclaim in late 2011.

Currently on show are a host of long-term displays exploring different aspects of Scottish Portraiture. They include: a set of portraits of people painted wearing their tartan in the 18th century; a display looking at the relationship between philosopher David Hume and painter Allan Ramsay; Thomas Annan's haunting photographs of a condemned Victorian Glasgow slum; a corner devoted to George Jamesone, widely accepted as Scotland's first great portrait painter; an investigation into the Jacobites' self-presentation through portraiture; military engineer John Slezer's landscape engravings from the late 17th and early 18th centuries; a survey of how and why women had their portraits painted in the 19th century; an exhibition of work showing how sport was transformed by wider social and infrastructural changes in the last two centuries; a section focusing on the Reformation; and finally a group of portraits of the heroes of Scotland's great industrial and cultural transformation of 1750–1850.

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Reviews & features

The Best Activities for Kids and Families in Edinburgh

3 Mar 2015

Places to go and things to do in Auld Reekie

Visitors have been climbing to the top of Camera Obscura’s rooftop chamber for over 150 years, so they must be doing something right. Up there, you can view Edinburgh through a giant periscope, ‘pick up’ a bus or person on a piece of paper, and learn…

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery want your children to become Portrait Detectives

9 Jan 2012

New events to get kids interested in the refurbished Gallery

Under wraps for the past two and a half years, the newly re-opened Scottish National Portrait Gallery cuts quite a dash. But for younger visitors, the wow factor generated by a £17 million spend can be hard to see. Which is why events like Portrait…

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery re-opens

14 Dec 2011

Edinburgh gallery transformed after major refurbishment

The public and exhibition space within the Gallery has increased by more than 60% since its refurbishment; as well as the traditional (and much missed) artworks from the likes of Ramsay, Nasmyth and Raeburn being on prominent display, the new Scottish…

Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh reopens

18 Nov 2011

Three-year rejuvenation makes collection more accessible

It’s a starry night in early November, and I’m about to get my first taster of the newly refurbished Scottish National Portrait Gallery. The imposing sandstone building that sprawls across an entire block of Edinburgh’s Queen Street has been closed…

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16 Feb 2011

Scotland's National Galleries are home to many major works

What’s your idea of true art? The perfect peachy bums of The Three Graces? Football mastermind Sir Alex Ferguson rendered in cut-up red postcards? A stern-faced ice-skating minister? Whatever tickles your artistic fancy, you can be sure to find it in…

Visual art: In the frame

15 Sep 2008

The most significant works of art in Scotland

Glasgow and Edinburgh’s galleries and museums play host to some of the most famous art works in the world. David Pollock selects the ten you cannot afford to miss.

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