Princes Street, The Scott Monument and the Royal Institution
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Princes Street, The Scott Monument and the Royal Institution about 1858
  • Scottish Art

The neoclassical New Town of Edinburgh was built in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century following the example of ancient Greek architecture in grand and formal lines. Walter Scott's Monument, designed and built by George Meikle Kemp, asserts the contrast and importance of the Gothic, northern culture, which interrupts the regular calm of the surrounding neoclassical buildings. Judging by the shadows, the picture was taken in the afternoon, when the light is best in Princes Street. The street looks empty, because the photograph was taken on a long exposure, and a dark blur is all that is left of the passers-by along the pavement on the left. The Royal Institution, now the Royal Scottish Academy building can be seen on the right.

Glossary Open

Exposure

The length of time a photosensitive surface is exposed to light. The term ‘multiple exposure’ is used to describe the act of recording more than one image on a single sheet or frame of film.

Gothic

The art and architectural style that dominated Western Europe during the medieval period. Its buildings are characterised by pointed arches, strong vertical lines and elaborate window structures. The style was widely revived in the 19th century.

Neo-classicism

The revival of ancient Greek and Roman models of art and architecture, with particular importance put on simplicity and discipline. Such ideals have been revived at various points in history and contrast with more decadent and dynamic styles such as the Baroque.

Royal Institution

Founded in Edinburgh in 1819, the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland was a privately funded and largely aristocratic body, modelled on the British Institution in London. The Royal Institution (RI) initially staged exhibitions of Old Master paintings, but from 1821 to 1830 it also mounted contemporary exhibitions to stimulate patronage for modern Scottish art. The RI’s fifth exhibition occupied a new building dedicated to the arts on The Mound. This building, originally named the Royal Institution, was shared with other bodies and learned societies. It is now called the Royal Scottish Academy building. In the 1820s the RI began to form a national collection of paintings, most of which was later housed in the adjacent National Gallery of Scotland.

Exposure, Gothic, Neo-classicism, Royal Institution

Details

  • Acc. No. PGP R 124
  • Medium Albumen print
  • Size 21.60 x 27.50 cm
  • Credit Gift of Mrs. Riddell in memory of Peter Fletcher Riddell 1985