Saturday 13 October to 30 November 2019
Friday 22nd November 7.30pm
Porteous, Juniper Green
“John Kay - Artist of Edinburgh’s Golden Age”
Edinburgh enjoyed a truly remarkable 18th century.
From the despairing years that followed the unpopular 1707 Act
of Union, the burgh emerged to become, by the end of the 18th
century, arguably the intellectual capital of Western Europe.
Physically, too, the city was transformed.
Thanks to the inspired leadership of Provost George
Drummond, the city burst from the confines of its medieval walls
and embarked on an ambitious plan to build the beautiful
Georgian New Town. These were exhilarating times indeed.
John Kay (1742 - 1826) was a self-taught artist and engraver
who had come to Edinburgh as a young man to work as a
barber and hairdresser. However, in 1784 he abandoned his
craft and for the next 38 years he sketched and engraved his
Some 358 of his engravings, with accompanying notes, were
published posthumously as ‘Kay’s Portraits’ in 1837.
This remarkable man has left us images of intellectual giants of
‘The Golden Age’ such as Joseph Black, James Hutton and
Adam Smith; notable eccentrics such as Lord Gardenstone; the
formidable Lord Braxfield; the notorious Deacon William Brodie,
and a host of colourful characters who walked past his
workshop behind St Giles in Edinburgh’s Parliament Close.
Eric graduated with First Class Honours in History and Political
Thought from Edinburgh University in 1967.
He qualified as a secondary teacher of History and Modern
Studies and retired from teaching in 2005, working latterly as
Headteacher at Currie Community High School.
Eric has had several books published by John Murray for
younger readers on aspects of Scottish History as well as
Discovering Scotland for Ladybird.
His most recent books are A Walk Down Edinburgh’s Royal
Mile, A Walk Through Edinburgh’s New Town and Mary, Queen
The Edinburgh of John Kay was published early in 2017.