Phoebe Anna Traquair

Three Studies for the Decoration of the first Mortuary Chapel, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh (1885)

About this artwork

In 1884 the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh responded to the demand for a room where ‘bodies can be left reverently and lovingly for the parents before the burials’. A disused coalhouse was turned into a mortuary chapel and the young artist Phoebe Traquair was invited to decorate the walls. These small works are studies for the murals on the room’s north wall and are titled, from left to right: ‘An angel escorting an angel towards heaven’, ‘The Virgin and Child with angels’ and ‘The Holy Spirit awakening the spirit of the deceased’. Traquair was fascinated by pre-eighteenth century art and incorporated a mixture of Celtic, Byzantine, gothic and baroque elements into the design. The interlocking circles on the frame are a sign of the Holy Trinity.

  • title: Three Studies for the Decoration of the first Mortuary Chapel, the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh
  • accession number: NG 1867
  • artist: Phoebe Anna TraquairScottish (1852 - 1936)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Celtic Revival
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1885
  • measurements: 24.80 x 20.00 cm (framed: 48.00 x 98.80 x 3.50 cm)
  • credit line: Bequest of the artist 1936
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

Phoebe Anna Traquair

Phoebe Anna Traquair

Traquair's murals, easel paintings, embroideries, book illustrations and jewellery brought her international recognition, as one of the most accomplished artists of the Arts and Crafts movement. She was originally from Dublin but moved to Edinburgh after her marriage to Dr Ramsay Traquair, Keeper of Natural History at the Royal Scottish Museum. She played a significant and practical role in the promotion of decorative art in public buildings, for example, through her murals in the Sick Children's Hospital. In 1920 Traquair became the first woman member of the Royal Scottish Academy.