It’s Time to Acknowledge the Seventeenth Century in the Story of Scottish Art

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George Jamesone (and Cosmo Alexander), Sibyl Europæa, ca.1640. ©The University of Aberdeen; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation George Jamesone (and Cosmo Alexander), Sibyl Europæa, ca.1640. ©The University of Aberdeen; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

There is a terrific TV series on at the moment called The Story of Scottish Art. It is a visual treat. Drone shots of The Ring of Brodgar emphasise grandeur. Close-ups of paintings by Ramsay and Raeburn not only reveal differences in technique, they unravel the separate principles of two great minds. The presenter, Lachlan Goudie, is instantly likeable. His enthusiasm is contagious. Overall, this is, and looks set to be, a landmark series. I have one issue with the show thus far though: the omission of the seventeenth century.

The first episode tackled a vast period: the Neolithic to the Reformation. We gazed deep into carved markings left by the enigmatic Picts; we admired the sophistication of the Gaels; and we witnessed the glamour and flair of early Stewart Kings…

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