Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778)1766
"It is a face as far removed from the aesthetic as one might expect (and the faint five o'clock shadow emphasises this) but it is a haunting face nonetheless. It is also a picture with a history... that was owned by a philosopher, David Hume - one philosopher looking at another."
Michael Russell, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution
"I kept company with this thoroughly theatrical portrait when I was reading Rousseau's Confessions and felt a sense of connection of this astonishing mind to our own remarkable Enlightenment thinkers. The portrait is infused with all the drama, dark paranoia and intellectual glamour of the man who entranced and horrified as I read him."
Faith Liddell, director Festivals Edinburgh
"This portrait has been a favourite since I first saw it as a child. It was the hat! My granny used to bring me to Edinburgh as a treat and she had one just like it. Later, I realised who the kind, clever face belonged to and that in this one quite modest painting lies the history of the Enlightenment: a triumvirate of 18th-century giants. What I like best about it is the colour black: the toughest, subtlest, most powerful colour on the palette. You don't often see it used better than in this 1766 masterpiece."
Richard Ingleby, Edinburgh gallery owner
- Glossary (2 terms)
Academy of St Luke
An art academy founded in Rome in the late 16th century with painter Federico Zuccaro the first president. Supported by the Pope, it strove to raise the status of artists above that of craftsmen. Also the name of the first art school in Edinburgh.
When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.
- Credits Purchased 1890
- Medium Oil on canvas
- Size 74.90 x 64.80 cm