2016 at the National Galleries of Scotland

by Mark Robertson, Digital Marketing Officer, 08 December 2015

After many months of planning, we are delighted to share our plans for 2016 with you. We've programmed a series of varied and ambitious exhibitions, celebrating old masters and contemporary stars alike, exploring influential art movements and investigating crucial moments from art history.

For a first taste of what to expect in 2016 here is our summer trailer:

Get a flavour of what's happening this Summer 2016 at the National Galleries of Scotland.

[Duration: 01.00]

2016 has an international flavour at the National Galleries, with the three summer exhibitions all being organised in collaboration with major European and American institutions. Each of these exhibitions - Inspiring Impressionism: Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh; Surreal Encounters; and Facing the World:Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei - will have its only UK showing in Edinburgh.

Surreal Encounters, which will be at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art between 4 June and 11 September, will bring together some of the finest Dada and Surrealist works in the world, while telling the story of four remarkable collections, put together with passion and discrimination by Edward James (1907-84), Roland Penrose (1900-84), Gabrielle Keiller (1908-95) and Ulla and Heiner Pietzsch. The first two, now largely dispersed, were built up in the 1930s and many of the works were acquired directly from the artists, with whom both men were on close terms. James was an important supporter of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte in particular, while Penrose was first introduced to Surrealism through a friendship with Max Ernst. These seminal collections also included masterpieces by Joan Miró, Giorgio de Chirico, Dorothea Tanning, Paul Delvaux, Leonora Carrington, Yves Tanguy and Man Ray. Many significant works from the James collection that will be on show are now in the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, including Dalí’s famous Mae West Lips Sofa (1938) and Magritte’s La reproduction interdite (1937), in which James himself appears.

Dorthea Tanning, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, © ADAGP, Paris and DACS, London 2015. Photo © Tate, London 2015

Inspiring Impressionism, will be the first large-scale exhibition to examine the relationship between Charles François Daubigny (1817-1878) and the generation of painters that followed him, including Claude Monet (1840–1926), Camille Pissarro (1830-1930) and Vincent van Gogh (1853-80). Daubigny was prolific, successful and played a major role in making the landscape a major subject for painting in France in the nineteenth-century. The exhibition, which will be at the Scottish National Gallery from 25 June to 2 October, will demonstrate how this now relatively overlooked artist anticipated and influenced many of the practices associated with Impressionism - routinely painting outdoors, adopting new compositional schemes, and developing a radically ‘unfinished’ style and a brighter palette.

Charles-Francois Daubigny, Charles-Francois Daubigny, Sunset Near Villerville (detail), around 1876, courtesy Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

In his later years, Daubigny explored a more subjective interpretation of nature in his sunsets and nocturnes, inspiring not only Monet, but Vincent van Gogh, who spent the last two months of his life close to Daubigny’s home and studio at Auvers-sur-Oise.  

Facing the World: Self-Portraits from Rembrandt to Ai Weiwei at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery will explore the intense fascination with which artists have turned their gaze upon themselves, and will offer a very rich survey of self-portraiture from the sixteenth century to the present day.

Facing the World will highlight the outstanding strengths of three great European collections, those of the Staatliche Kunsthalle, in Karlsruhe, Germany, the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lyon, in France, and the National Galleries of Scotland. It will feature an astonishing selection of over 140 works, spanning six centuries, in a wide range of media, including drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, video and social media.

Self Portrait with Fried Eggs, Sarah Lucas, 1996 − © The Artist, courtesy Sadie Coles HQ, London

Highlights will include one of Rembrandt’s most memorable self-portraits, painted at the age of 51, and stunning works by Simon Vouet, Allan Ramsay, Hyacinthe Rigaud, David Wilkie, Gustave Courbet, Edvard Munch, Paul Klee, Andy Warhol, Marina Abramovic, Douglas Gordon, Sarah Lucas and Annie Lennox. It will also bring together many superb works unfamiliar to British audiences, including self-portraits by the Italian Futurist Gino Severini, and the German Expressionist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. In an age when issues of identity and questions about how we present ourselves to the world are being widely addressed this ambitious international project will prove thought-provoking and inspiring. Facing the World will also feature interactive installations which will allow visitors to make portraits of themselves, and so contribute to a vibrant composite digital self-portrait of those who have taken part.

Joan Eardley’s career lasted barely fifteen years: she died in 1963, aged just 43. During that time she concentrated on two very different themes: the extraordinarily candid paintings of children in the Townhead area of Glasgow; and paintings of the fishing village of Catterline, just south of Aberdeen, with its leaden skies and wild sea. These two contrasting strands will be the focus of this exhibition, which will look in detail at Eardley’s working process. Joan Eardley: Fifteen Years will draw on a remarkable archive of sketches and photographs which remains largely unknown and unpublished.

Eardley made literally thousands of working drawings, some of them slight sketches, while others are resolved pastel drawings, sometimes done on sheets of sandpaper. She also made hundreds of photographs, mainly of children playing in the street outside her studio, and commissioned a friend, Audrey Walker, to make photographs of specific sites, to aid her in her work. Precisely because she was an amateur photographer, and was seeking natural movement rather than staged poses or pin-sharp detail, Eardley’s photographs have a haunting quality: childhood and poverty are explored in a manner which is factual rather than sentimental. 

Street Kids, 1949-51, © Estate of Joan Eardley. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2015.

The Catterline paintings likewise develop from rough pastel sketches, many of them never previously exhibited. Many of these unpublished sketches and photographs come from a remarkable archive, donated to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art by Eardley’s sister, Pat Black, in 1984. Fragile testaments to Eardley’s working procedure, they will be specially conserved and presented for this exhibition, where they will be seen for the first time. The exhibition, which will open at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art on 3 December, will also feature many loans from public and private collections, allowing the viewer to trace specific developments between the photographs, the drawings and the finished paintings.

National Galleries of Scotland are also very proud to be part of the Scotland-wide Festival of Architecture 2016 which coincides with the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design. The Festival of Architecture is a key feature in this exciting year-long celebration. Our contribution will be Out of their Heads: Building Portraits of Scottish Architects. Peer inside the minds of Scotland’s greatest ever architects, by admiring their portraits and encountering recreations of their most iconic designs.

Peter Zelewski, Nyaueth, 2015 © Peter Zelewski

Other highlights for 2016 include our annual Turner in January display at the Scottish National Gallery, whilst the Scottish National Portrait Gallery plays host to Bad Entertainment: The UNTITLED, which explores what happens when you ask young people to create art on their own terms. At the Gallery of Modern Art, we host British Art Show 8, and have a breath-taking display of works by Bridget Riley at Modern One, while the Taylor Wessing Photography Portrait Prize 2015 arrives mid-summer at the Portrait Gallery, showcasing the very best in contemporary portrait photography.

Keep coming back regularly to nationalgalleries.org as we’ll be updating you with more on these shows and others still to be revealed as we go.



  • Antoinette Gordon, 02 March 2016

    Dear Curator, Could you please let me know if the catalogue for the "Impressionism - Daubigny etc." Exhibition, is now available by post. I plan to visit the exhibition as soon as it opens in Edinburgh, as I am carrying out some research on Daubigny, but would appreciate having the catalogue beforehand so that I can study it fully. I live in Warwickshire and I would be happy to pay by cheque/credit card/debit card/?, and full packing and postage costs, if you could let me know what this amounts to. Thank you very much in anticipation. AG

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