Top 5 celebrity spots at the Portrait Gallery

Paul Stuart Portrait of Calvin Harris February 2015 © Paul Stuart

If oil paintings of royalty and poets from centuries gone by aren’t your thing, then don’t worry - a trip to the Portrait Gallery doesn’t need to be ruled out! Also on display are a wide selection of Scots from the here and now.

On the gallery's first floor you'll find The Modern Portrait, featuring many famous faces captured by great Scottish painters and photographers. This display is open until 27 October and it collates some of the most recognisable modern and contemporary portraits from the national collection. Included are Denise Mina (crime writer and playwright) painted by Gerard M. Burns and Alan Cumming - his portrait the winning commission for the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of The Year 2014 competition painted by Christian Hook. 

From multi-selling producers, to belly-laughing comedians, awe-inspiring actors to broadcasting trail-blazers, the gallery is alive with great Scots that have shaped the past, present and future. Walking into the gallery itself is a feast for the eyes. Flooded with natural light it instantly feels fresh and energetic. Round every corner there is a familiar face looking back at you. Billy’s unrivalled sense of fun, Muriel Gray’s trademark bleached hair and Calvin’s calm appeal are all conveyed as you journey through the gallery.

John Byrne Billy Connolly (b. 1942) 2002 © Estate of John Byrne. All rights reserved. DACS, London 2023
Iain Clark Muriel Gray, b. 1958. Broadcaster 2005 © Iain Clark
Guy Kinder Ian Rankin, b 1960. Author 2013 © Estate of Guy Kinder

You'll also discover recognisable portraits in softer tones. Chris Hoy is depicted (three times!) against a pale blue background. 

Meanwhile, Ian Rankin, painted in his favourite Edinburgh haunt, The Oxford Bar, hangs beautifully in the gallery café. A perfect location to relax and take a moment to reflect on these modern day, relatable faces that are inspiring future generations of Scotland.

Why not come along and see how many recognisable faces you can spot? 

By Rachael Grieve, Wonderhouse, 3 September 2019