RSA Library


It is impossible to speak of western civilization without talking of Rome, not so much on account of her former role as an imperial, conquering power but rather because of the immense cultural, artistic and lawmaking legacy she has left us. It might seem at first sight that Scotland was one of the peripheral areas least marked by Roman civilization but a closer look reveals profound and very close links.


This exhibition, organised by the Cultural Institute in Edinburgh aims to highlight and provide evidence for at least some of the many continuing links between Rome and Scotland over the last two thousand years. All the exhibits come from Scottish collections. Beginning with archaeological findings in Scotland, such as the Altar to Fortuna, recovered from Castlecary dedicated to the Roman goddess of good fortune (courtesy of the Hunterian Museum), it moves on to medieval evidence showing the close relationship between Scotland and the very centre of western Christianity, established in the city of Rome. Then it is the turn of the Renaissance and Baroque periods, with their interest in the rediscovered texts of classical literature, here represented by the priceless volumes from the National Library of Scotland and Scottish Catholic Archives such as the 15th Century Book of Hours and Arma Christi and the 1976 Bull of Canonisation for Saint John Ogilvie.


That extraordinary phenomenon, the Grand Tour, shows that, for the elites at least, a visit to Rome was an essential part of one's education. This ideal itinerary is represented by paintings, drawings and prints, courtesy of the National Galleries of Scotland, among which Douglas Hamilton, 8th Duke of Hamilton (1756-1799), with Dr John Moore and Sir John Moore.

Present day connections are represented by the works of Geoff Uglow and Steven MacIver, who both graduated from art schools in Scotland and are recipients of the RSA John Kinross Scholarships to Florence, as well as the Sainsbury Scholarships at The British School at Rome.


The exhibition will be held in the newly-refurbished RSA Library.


Exhibition partners:
The Hunterian Museum
Italian Cultural Institute, Edinburgh
The Scottish Catholic Archives
The National Galleries of Scotland
The National Library of Scotland
The Faculty of Advocates