John Scougall Hunterian Portraits

Project Outline

Martin Luther, by John Scougall (1657-1737), painting, oil on canvas, Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

This project focuses on a technical investigation into a group of 13 portraits of Protestant Reformers, Kings and Queens and Principals of the University of Glasgow which are currently attributed to Scottish artist John Scougall (1657-1737) in the Hunterian collection.

Scougall and his father (David Scougall, c.1630-1685), dominated the field of portrait painting in Restoration Scotland, and their works have recently been reassessed by art historian Carla van de Putelaar. However, little technical research has been undertaken on portraits by either artist to date. Several portraits of prominent Protestant Reformers within the Hunterian group are significant as some of the earliest commissions made by the University of Glasgow in 1693 and as they were purchased directly from Scougall’s workshop. Technical examination of these “touchstone” works therefore will allow for direct insights into Scougall’s workshop practice to be made, and these works will also act as comparators by which the rest of the group will be assessed.

This study will aim to add to knowledge about the workshop practice and materials and techniques of John Scougall, to assess whether all 13 paintings originated in the same workshop and to consider their significance both at the time of their commission/entry into the collection and also during their history at the University (they are documented at least one point early in the nineteenth century as hanging together in the Divinity Hall). Finer quality works by the artist, the religious and cultural climate of the time and the extant archival evidence will also be considered to gain a holistic view. This study links in to Caroline’s extant research interest in the materials and techniques of works of art produced in Scotland and in England in the Early Modern Period.

TAHG Participants

Caroline Rae



This project is in collaboration with The Hunterian.