Exhibition | Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on November 8, 2017

Thomas Hamilton (1784–1858) RSA, Design for National Gallery and Royal Scottish Academy.

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Press release from the National Galleries of Scotland:

Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now
Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 4 November 2017 — 7 January 2018

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS) and the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) have collaborated to organise a major new exhibition, which opens in Edinburgh this autumn. Ages of Wonder: Scotland’s Art 1540 to Now will be the largest exhibition of the RSA’s hugely significant collection ever mounted and the first to occupy the entire RSA building.

The RSA is an independently funded institution founded in 1826, and is led by artists and architects to promote and support the creation, understanding and enjoyment of contemporary art. It was instrumental in the establishment of a Scottish national art collection in 1859, with the opening of the Scottish National Gallery (SNG). In 1910, the RSA transferred significant works to the SNG’s collection in exchange for exhibiting rights within what is now known as the RSA Building, which is part of the SNG complex in the heart of Edinburgh.

Ages of Wonder will, for the first time in over 100 years, reunite these paintings and sculptures with the RSA collection, bringing together a selection of over 450 works by more than 270 artists and architects that will highlight the significant part played by RSA in Scottish cultural over the past two centuries. Around 60 outstanding works from NGS will feature in the exhibition.

The artworks on show will cover a period of nearly five centuries, from 1540 until the present day—from the The Adoration of the Kings by Jacopo Bassano (c.1510–1592) right through to Callum Innes’s Exposed Painting Lamp Black, submitted as the artist’s Diploma Work in 2015 after his election as an Academician, and a number of new commissions. Among the exhibition’s highlights will be a spectacular recreation of a Victorian gallery hang, which in RSA Gallery 3 will see over 90 works hung as they would have in the 19th century, from dado rail to ceiling.

Ages of Wonder will also feature a range of special events, including a series of life drawing classes led by prominent contemporary artists such as John Byrne (b.1940), and live etching classes which will utilise a beautifully preserved 19th-century printing press which belonged to the distinguished etcher E. S. Lumsden (1883–1948).

One room will focus on Sir James Guthrie (1859–1930) and the 1910 transfer, featuring major works from both the RSA and NGS, by Guthrie and other artists such as William Dyce (1806–1864) and Joseph Noel Paton (1821–1901), and a specially commissioned sculpture of Guthrie by Kenny Hunter (b.1962). There will also be a room of outstanding portraits of RSA Presidents and artists, showcasing key works by David Allan (1744–1796), Elizabeth Blackadder (b.1934) and Alberto Morrocco (1917–1998).

John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “The NGS and the RSA have a shared history and together we occupy a central place in the past, present and future of the arts in Scotland. We now work very closely together and we are delighted to have partnered with the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) to help deliver what is set to be a historic show. Visitors to the exhibition can soon enjoy some exceptional works by artists both past and present, with items from the national collection complementing the rich and important holdings of the RSA.”

The exhibition will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication edited by Tom Normand and a catalogue. The publication includes essays around the Academy from Duncan Macmillan HRSA, Joanna Soden HRSA, James Holloway, Helen Smailes, Arthur Watson PRSA, Alexander Moffat RSA, William Brotherston RSA, Iain Gale, Lyon and Turnbull, John Morrison, University of Aberdeen, John Lowrey, University of Edinburgh and Sandy Wood, RSA Collections Curator.

Salon hang with William Etty’s Venus of Urbino.








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