About this artwork

This painting shows the minister of the local kirk questioning a young parish girl about particular aspects of her Protestant faith. This practice, which was used as an instructive teaching method, was known as catechising. Stylistically, it is reminiscent of Scottish village scenes by David Wilkie, but Phillips’s treatment is more sentimental, even nostalgic; the costumes are those of the previous century. An unusual feature in the design is the presence of the hearthstone in the extreme bottom foreground that indicates that the spectator is standing somewhere in, or even beyond the fireplace.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Presbyterian Catechising
  • date created:
    Dated 1847
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    100.60 x 156.00 cm (framed: 125.50 x 178.00 x 6.50 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Bequest of John Jordan 1914
  • accession number:
    NG 1155
  • gallery:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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John Phillip

John Phillip