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.