William Brassey Hole

Scottish National Portrait Gallery; cartoons for processional frieze (From James VI and I to Mary of Guise) (About 1898)

About this artwork

This drawing – or cartoon – is a study for a section of the processional frieze in the main hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. William Hole, who was commissioned to decorate the gallery’s main hall, produced numerous sketches for every part of the scheme. This section can be found on the south wall and runs chronologically from right to left. It starts with Mary of Guise, mother of Mary Queen of Scots who is the third figure in this section. Lord Darnley and the Earl of Bothwell, husbands of Mary Queen of Scots, also feature, as does David Rizzio, her murdered secretary. In the middle appears church-reformer John Knox, with familiar cap and long beard. The section finishes with James VI of Scotland, who in 1603 became the first King of Great Britain.

William Brassey Hole

William Brassey Hole

Edinburgh-based artist William Hole specialised in history painting and etching. Around 1895 he volunteered to decorate the chancel of St James’ Church on Inverleith Row with large-scale murals. In 1897 the still unfinished work came to the attention of John Ritchie Findlay, owner of ‘The Scotsman’ newspaper. Findlay commissioned Hole to carry out the internal decorative scheme of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which had recently been built with money donated by Findlay. During several years, Hole designed and painted a processional frieze of Scottish worthies and completed a series of large murals that illustrate events in Scottish history. He later carried out other important commissions, including six paintings for the City Chambers in Edinburgh.