The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, founded in 1882, opened the doors of its ornate neo-Gothic palace in 1889. Funded by the philanthropist John Ritchie Findlay and designed by the great Victorian architect, Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, the building was the first custom-built gallery of its kind in the world. Shared for the first hundred years of its life with the National Museum of Antiquities, Findlay’s original vision has at last been realised by the reconfiguration of the entire building to display one of the richest national portrait collections anywhere in the world.
This book traces the history of the earliest ideas for such a gallery, how the building itself came into being and how it was embellished to reflect national aspirations. As well as looking at the various personalities involved at the different stages of its life, the book also discusses how the building has been adapted to cope with modern needs, how notions of display have changed and how collecting policies developed over more than a century to shape the collection into what it is today.