The delicate stone tracery of the Victorian gothic town house provides a fine setting for an interesting and eclectic collection, mostly portraits, spanning local notable figures and others with wider connections to the history of Scotland and beyond.
Images of the long line of Inverness Provosts dominate. Looking purely at artistic merit, several portraits deserve mention. Sir John Barnard, Lord Mayor of London may have only a slight connection with Inverness but his portrait by Allan Ramsay is a fine addition to the collection. 'Sir John Mackintosh' by Raeburn is a typical example of this artist’s use of subtle tones and broad, direct brushwork.
The sheer scale of the 'Allegorical Triumph with Queen Anne' is impressive. She was the last member of the Stuart royal family to hold the throne and it was under her rule that the Act of Union was passed in 1707. Her feet rest on symbols of war and the triumph referred to is probably the ending of the long war against France which dominated her reign.
The surprise of the collection is the Italian mid-sixteenth-century ‘The Holy Family with Saint John the Baptist’. Bequeathed to Inverness Academy in 1800 by a local art lover who later settled in Naples, it served as the focal point of many an art class until its present relocation.
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