William Brassey Hole

English (1846 - 1917)
William Brassey Hole The Mission of St Columba to the Picts A.D. 563 1898


Born 1846
Died 1917
Nationality English
Birth place Salisbury
Death place Edinburgh

Edinburgh-based artist William Hole specialised in history painting and etching. Around 1895 he volunteered to decorate the chancel of St James’ Church on Inverleith Row with large-scale murals. In 1897 the still unfinished work came to the attention of John Ritchie Findlay, owner of ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper. Findlay commissioned Hole to carry out the internal decorative scheme of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which had recently been built with money donated by Findlay. During several years, Hole designed and painted a processional frieze of Scottish worthies and completed a series of large murals that illustrate events in Scottish history. He later carried out other important commissions, including six paintings for the City Chambers in Edinburgh.

Glossary terms

  • Derived from an element in classical architecture, it is used broadly to refer to any decorative horizontal band running along a wall or piece of furniture.

  • Lifted from the Italian word ‘fresco’ (‘fresh’), the term refers to wall paintings generally made on wet plaster so that the coloured pigment is absorbed into the surface of the wall, resulting in brilliant, vibrant colours. Fresco is an ancient tradition of painting that came to prominence during the Italian Renaissance and has been revived by various artists since.