Here is the Reverend Robert Walker skating on Duddingston Loch, painted by Sir Henry Raeburn in 1795. If you consider Raeburn’s works on the National Galleries of Scotland pages, you will see that the sitters are mostly men- and one woman- of substance and achievement, rather than mere aristocrats. I am not sure of the full oeuvre of Raeburn or Gainsborough enough to say what proportion of the subjects of either artist are noble, but it seems that at the very least the Scottish galleries can tell a different story of our society and our priorities from the British, and that we do indeed tell that story. It is a story of the intellectual life of the city.
As I understand it they do still dress like that in the Inner House of the Court of Session.
I love his facial expression. “How can you tell a lawyer’s glass eye? That’s the one with compassion in it.” That face could say so many things: is it merely worldweary cynicism, seeing men at our worst, or is there com-passion, fellow feeling? Are the corners of the lips raised because he has seen the amusing agonies of a litigant, or because he seeks to remain positive even in the gloomy recesses of Parliament House?
Allan Ramsay has more aristos, but here is David Hume, the philosopher. At University, I thought The Enlightenment a Scottish phenomenon, rather than French, or German, and certainly not English. Alexander Monro was “Primus” as the first of his line of physicians, rather than as the first Bishop of the Episcopal Church.