About this artwork

Muriel Spark was born in Edinburgh to a Jewish Lithuanian father and an English Protestant mother. Educated at James Gillespie's School for Girls, she later immortalised one of her teachers, Christina Kay, in her most famous novel, 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'. Spark began her writing career in London as editor of 'The Poetry Review', but is now best known for her 'seriously funny' novels in which the struggle between good and evil is centre stage, a theme she shares with earlier Scottish writers. The success of her novels enabled her to leave London, moving to Italy in 1967. She only ever returned to Britain as a visitor, and sat for this commissioned portrait during a brief stay in Edinburgh. In 1993, Spark was made a Dame of the British Empire. She died in Tuscany in 2006, aged 88.

Alexander (Sandy) Moffat

Alexander (Sandy) Moffat

Born in Dunfermline, Moffat studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1960 to 64. Alongside his friend John Bellany, Moffat emerged as one of the Scottish Realists, so-called because of their social awareness and rejection of the decorative principles that defined much Scottish art during the first half of the twentieth century. Moffat was particularly close to the poet Hugh MacDiarmid and his literary circle. From 1979 Moffat taught at Glasgow School of Art where he encouraged a new generation of Scottish figurative painters including Peter Howson, Ken Currie and Steven Campbell.