This is my blog, intended to provide information relevant to the history of Edinburgh in the Georgian period. I would love to hear any comments you may have.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Free online book: Georgian artist John Kay's Edinburgh portraits

Edinburgh Bookshelf are to be congratulated for making available free online some very important works relating to Edinburgh history.

Among these is a work titled "A series of original portraits and caricature etchings by the late John Kay, with biographical sketches and illustrative anecdotes", collected by Hugh Paton and first published in 1838. Paton provided extensive notes for over 300 of Kay's  illustrations of Edinburgh society in the Georgian period. http://edinburghbookshelf.org.uk/volume8/

If you have not already discovered Kay's work, do yourself a service and follow the link above. John Kay was a highly original and talented caricaturist who spent his life observing, recording and affectionately  lampooning Edinburgh society between about 1785 and his death in 1826. His work provides a unique insight into life in Scotland's capital city.

As a brief taste of what this work contains, here are three illustrations with brief notes. 

This wonderful drawing shows Dr James Graham pursuing a young lady across the windy North Bridge of Edinburgh in the late 1780s. Kay's work offers an insight into contemporary fashions as well as individual characters in the Edinburgh society of the day.

Bailie James Dickson and Bailie James Torry are typical of Kay's subject matter. These two respectable city concillors are shown in their good day clothes, looking suitably pompous and dull. 

Two Royal Edinburgh volunteers. Kay used exaggeration to great effect, as seen here in this delightful drawing of two well known city loyalists.

Any person with either an interest in the period or an appreciation of a unique artistic style could happily spend hours browsing this work! Use the link above to access free of charge.

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