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Adam Smith, 1723 - 1790. Political economist

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Adam Smith, 1723 - 1790. Political economist Dated 1787


  • Scottish Art
This glass paste medallion by James Tassie is one of only few authentic portraits of the great political economist and author of ‘The Wealth of Nations’ (1776). One of the most famous Scots ever, Smith is the father of the economic principle of free enterprise. He is also the first Scotsman ever to appear on an English banknote. This very portrait was used on the £20 notes issued by the Bank of England in 2007. Another almost identical portrait of Smith by Tassie is also in the collection of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

Glossary Open

Glass paste medallion

Type of portraiture invented by James Tassie. First, a portrait relief is sculpted in wax to create a negative mould. A slab of glass paste is then placed on the mould and heated, so that the paste melts and takes on the shape of the portrait relief.

Glass paste medallion


  • Acc. No. PG 1949
  • Medium Paste
  • Size Height: 7.30 cm
  • Credit Transferred from the National Gallery of Scotland 1960