About this artwork

There has been much argument as to whether the man in this wood engraving is John Knox. However, it has repeatedly been used as a model for later statues and history paintings. Knox began his career as a Roman Catholic priest, but after encountering the Protestant preacher, George Wishart, he became an convert to the reformed religion. By the time Mary, Queen of Scots, returned to Scotland in 1561, he was a minister of St Giles in Edinburgh and he went on to have several famous confrontations with her. The celebration of Mass in Holyrood Chapel for Mary and her Catholic courtiers particularly angered him.

Adrian Vanson

Adrian Vanson

Of Flemish origins, Vanson worked in Edinburgh as a court painter from 1584. He was one of a number of French and Netherlandish artists, craftsmen and merchants living in the city. Vanson produced many portraits of members of the court; in 1585 Vanson was admitted as burgess of Edinburgh for his services to the city. He was the father of the artist Adam de Colone.