About this artwork

The Processional Frieze runs around the four sides of the Great Hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. William Fergusson Brassey Hole was commissioned to paint the decorative scheme in the Great Hall in 1897. The frieze was the first element of this extensive project which he completed. It presents in reverse chronological order key figures from Scottish history, from nineteenth-century historian Thomas Carlyle back to the Stone Age. Many of the figures are directly based on portraits created during the sitters’ lifetime and can be found in the collection of the National Galleries of Scotland. Some of the earliest figures represent a period rather than specific historical personages. At the centre of the composition is Caledonia, a personification of Scotland, holding the book of the story of Scotland. She is pulling back a curtain to reveal a starry sky, providing a visual link to the ceiling which shows the constellations of the Northern hemisphere.

Updated before 2020

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William Brassey Hole

William Brassey Hole