Unpick the tale of two Williams – William Duff, owner of Duff House, and William Adam, its architect. The two fell out over money during the creation of this splendid early Georgian mansion, leading to a five-year court case. As home to noted art collectors, Duff House has long been adorned with magnificent paintings. It later played an active role in the Second World War. Today, Duff House is a country house gallery displaying collections from the National Galleries of Scotland.
Exhibitions at Duff House
NGS Masterpiece Loan: Lord Byron by William Edward West, 1822
21 September 2023 to 25 August 2024, during opening hours.
The infamous romantic poet Lord Byron (1788-1824) was half-Scottish and spent his early childhood in Aberdeen. He retained a trace of a Scottish accent throughout his life. Byron's complicated relationships had caused a scandal and in 1816 he left Britain forever. At the time of this portrait, he was living in Italy with his lover, Countess Teresa Guiccioli. In 1822 when the painting was being created, the Artist, William Edward West, complained that the poet was a difficult sitter, either restless and over-talkative or silent and self-conscious. Nobody liked the finished work; Teresa said it was a 'frightful caricature'.
William Edward West (1788-1857) made a name for himself as a painter of miniature portraits in his native Kentucky whilst still in his teens. A benefactor financed his studies in Thomas Sully's studio in Philadelphia. He visited Italy in 1819 and stayed in Europe for the next twenty years. In 1825 he moved to London but financial difficulties forced him to go back to America. Washington Irving, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron were among his most celebrated sitters.
NGS Annual Exhibition: J.M.W Turner’s Illustrations for ‘The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell’
21 September 2023 to 24 March 2024, during opening hours.
The National Galleries of Scotland hold the only complete set of Turner’s finished vignette illustrations that remain together in the same collection; these form his twenty watercolours for The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell, published by Edward Moxon in 1837.
This exhibition will be the first time these illustrations have been shown as a full set for over twenty years. They will be accompanied by portrait drawings of Turner and Campbell, as well as the bound volumes of The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell and Samuel Rogers’ Italy. The exhibition will explore how Turner developed and expanded the possibilities of vignette illustration, from his imaginative and sensitive response to literary texts, to his interactions with the engravers responsible for translating his watercolours into the printed form. The works on show will demonstrate the full range of Turner’s subject matter, including pastoral scenes, marine views, mountains, architecture and cityscapes, battles, storms and the struggle between man and nature.
Migrations - A Field Study of Adversity
20 October 2023 to 28 January 2024, Friday-Sun, 1pm - 4pm, last entry 3.15pm.
Wildlife artist Derek Robertson fills the Long Gallery at Duff House with images drawn from the themes of migration, climate change, and the struggle to survive in an adverse world. Robertson realised that the routes of birds and refugees often followed close parallels. He travelled through Europe to the Middle East, sketching,volunteering and teaching art activities in refugee camps and transit points. This series of paintings draws together topics of refugee crisis and climate change, depicting birds as environmental indicators and as metaphor for people.