This spring The Artist Up Close brings together a broad range of portraits of some of Scotlands most admired artists created by themselves, their friends or family. The display includes prints and drawings from the National collection spanning the last 300 years. Portraits of Sir Henry Raeburn, Allan Ramsay and Sir David Wilkie are shown alongside modern artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi, Anne Redpath, and Alan Davie. Whilst these artists names and work may be familiar, this display will put their faces and personalities in the picture.
The exhibition contains many insightful self portraits. A striking image of Allan Ramsay (1713 1784) at the age of 20 already depicts a young, confident man who went on to become one of the most successful portrait painters in the 18th century. Another fascinating sketch is possibly the earliest surviving work by Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005). Drawn on the cover of a book of nursery rhymes, this youthful self portrait was created when he was approximately 11 years old.
The show also features portraits by family members. Kate Cameron (1874 1965), sister of famous Scottish printmaker D. Y. Cameron (1865 1945), studied at Glasgow School of Art like her influential brother. Her delicate and restrained drawing reflects his quiet and retiring personality and was probably made for her own enjoyment rather then for public display. A study of Alexander Runciman (1736 1785) by his younger brother John Runciman (1744 1768) is also in the show. The siblings were great friends; Alexander taught John to draw and the pair travelled together to Italy in 1767, to further their artistic training.
Lastly close friendships are represented in the show. A pair of reciprocal portraits by a young Henry Raeburn (1756 1823) and his mentor David Deuchar (1745 1808) provide a touching memento of the older and younger artists friendship and mutual respect. This is a rare opportunity to see the earliest known work by Raeburn. A portrait of Jessie Marion King (1875 1949) by her lifelong friend Helen Paxton Brown (1876 1956) is also featured. The two women were fellow pupils at Glasgow School of Art and shared a studio from around 1898 until 1907.
These 32 works showcase the breadth and variety of the Gallerys world-class collection of works on paper and offers a special glimpse at these fascinating Scottish artists, through their own eyes and those close to them.
The exhibition is on view from 10 February 5 June 2010 at the National Gallery Complex