James's People

Open daily, 10am–5pm

Admission free

The lift is currently out of order. There is no step-free/wheelchair access to the upper floors. We hope to resolve this issue soon.


This small display brings together portraits of individuals who lived under the reign of King James VI and his Queen Consort Anna of Denmark. It gives a glimpse into the variety of people living and working in Scotland in the 16th and 17th centuries and sheds light on some of their lesser-known stories. 

From a jester to a jeweller, a calligrapher to a courtier, and poets to a university principal, these are just a few of the professions represented in the paintings and works on paper that are on display.

This display can be found within the larger Reformation to Revolution display.

Late 16th-century Edinburgh was a multicultural city. It was where the royal court was based, at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The court was home to the royal family and members of the nobility, but it also provided employment to large numbers of officials and domestic servants.  

As the cultural heart of the city, the court attracted a wealth of artists, craftspeople, writers and musicians in search of royal patronage. While some of these people came to Scotland from Europe seeking fame and fortune, for others the country offered security and a new life to individuals and their families seeking refuge from religious or political persecution. See the display highlights below to discover more.  

Event highlights
Event accessibility

Display accessibility

  • Wheelchair access


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Gallery facilities

  • Information desk
  • Wifi
  • Wheelchair access
  • Accessible toilets
  • Wheelchairs available
  • Public toilets
  • Lockers (£1/£2)
  • Baby changing facilities
  • Buggy park
  • Seating throughout
  • Bike rack
  • Café
Getting here

Getting here

Located in the city centre on Queen Street, the Portrait is easy to access.

Venue map
  • Open daily, 10am–5pm
1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD

Related features

Related features

Talks & lectures | Introducing James’s People

In this illustrated talk, Kate Anderson explores a selection of artworks which are part of the display James's People.

Esther Inglis: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman

In this blog Kate Anderson focuses on a painting of the sixteenth-century writer and illustrator Esther Inglis.

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