Three Studies for the Decoration of the first Mortuary Chapel, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh 1885
  • Scottish Art
In 1884 the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh responded to the demand for a room where ‘bodies can be left reverently and lovingly for the parents before the burials’. A disused coalhouse was turned into a mortuary chapel and the young artist Phoebe Traquair was invited to decorate the walls. These small works are studies for the murals on the room’s north wall and are titled, from left to right: ‘An angel escorting an angel towards heaven’, ‘The Virgin and Child with angels’ and ‘The Holy Spirit awakening the spirit of the deceased’. Traquair was fascinated by pre-eighteenth century art and incorporated a mixture of Celtic, Byzantine, gothic and baroque elements into the design. The interlocking circles on the frame are a sign of the Holy Trinity.

Glossary Open


A general term for European art and architecture from the 17th to the mid 18th centuries. It particularly refers to works characterised by a sense of movement and theatricality.

Byzantine art

Artistic style that developed in the eastern Mediterranean under the rule of the Byzantine Empire and spread beyond its boundaries to other parts of the Christian world. It moved away from classical naturalistic figures to flat frontal figures and is best seen in mosaics and icons.


The art and architectural style that dominated Western Europe during the medieval period. Its buildings are characterised by pointed arches, strong vertical lines and elaborate window structures. The style was widely revived in the 19th century.


An artwork or design attached or applied directly to a wall.

Baroque, Byzantine art, Gothic, Mural


  • Acc. No. NG 1867
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 24.80 x 20.00 cm
  • Credit Bequest of the artist 1936