About this artwork

The Grassmarket in Edinburgh provides a splendid backdrop for Drummond's theatrical portrayal of events described in Sir Walter Scott's novel, the 'Heart of Midlothian'. Drummond concentrated on one dramatic moment: the lynching of Captain Porteous of the Edinburgh City Guard in 1736. Porteous, however, depicted in red and spreadeagled on the shoulders of his executioners in the middle distance, is of secondary importance in the composition. Precedence is given to a variety of incidents and colourful characters in the foreground. The Royal Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland bought the painting in 1856.

  • title: The Porteous Mob
  • accession number: NG 180
  • artist: James DrummondScottish (1816 - 1877)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Walter Scott Crowds and mobs
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1855
  • measurements: 111.80 x 152.50 cm (framed: 142.80 x 182.70 x 8.40 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased by RAPFAS 1856; transferred 1897
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

James Drummond

James Drummond

Drummond was an accomplished artist and antiquarian, who specialised in Scottish history paintings. He studied at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh and made many fine drawings, reflecting his interests in arms, armour and architecture. He supported the preservation of Edinburgh's historic buildings, which often feature in his paintings. Drummond researched his subjects thoroughly and planned his compositions along strict academic lines. Detailed drawings of individual figures, figure groups and compositional sketches, in pencil and watercolour, preceded his final painting. Drummond was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1852 and became curator of the National Gallery of Scotland in 1868.