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David Hume, 1711 - 1776. Historian and philosopher 1766


  • Scottish Art
Hume, the eminent Scottish philosopher and historian, was a close friend of Ramsay and both were founder members of The Select Society a distinguished debating club in Edinburgh. He supported Ramsay's rejection of idealism in painting in favour of a more truthful and natural representation celebrated in this portrait. Hume rests his left arm informally on two books possibly alluding to his own publications such as his 'Treatise on Human Nature' and 'The History of England' as well as to his knowledge. One of the volumes is by the Roman historian Tacitus. The portrait was painted as a companion to Ramsay's portrait of Rousseau which is also in the collection.

Glossary Open


The representation of something as a model of perfection.



  • Acc. No. PG 1057
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 30.00 x 25.00 in.; 76.20 x 63.50 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by Mrs Macdonald Hume to the National Gallery of Scotland and transferred