Rev. William Robertson, 1721 - 1793. Historian. Principal of Edinburgh University
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Rev. William Robertson, 1721 - 1793. Historian. Principal of Edinburgh University 1772
Minister, Historiographer Royal in Scotland, and Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Robertson was famous for his historical writing, particularly his ‘History of Scotland’, published in 1759. His ‘History of Charles V’, available from 1769, was praised by two giants of Enlightenment thought, the French philosopher Voltaire and the historian Gibbon. Robertson was also one of the first to publish on the history of the Americas. Eight years after his death, his biographer, Dugald Stewart, remarked on his vigorous, intelligent appearance and commented that this portrait was “an admirable likeness; although the colours were ‘already much faded’” – a criticism often levelled at Reynolds’ painting technique.

Glossary Open

Enlightenment

A philosophical movement of the 18th century that emphasised the use of reason to question established beliefs and traditions. Associated ideas included a greater sense of individualism, a belief in human progress and an equation of God with the laws of nature.

Enlightenment

Details

  • Acc. No. PG 1393
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 127.50 x 102.10 cm (framed: 152.40 x 126.80 x 8.00 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1939