Masterpiece Loan 2022: Sir Alexander Morison, 1779-1866

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Duff House
AB45 3SX

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Hat in hand, as if bidding farewell, Alexander Morison, a pioneer of psychiatric medicine, stands before his estate in Newhaven, just north of Edinburgh. This portrait was painted at the end of Morison's seventeen years as consultant to Bethlem Asylum in Surrey. The artist, Richard Dadd, was one of Morison's patients. He had murdered his father believing him to be the devil. Dadd, hospitalised at Bethlem, did not visit Scotland, but based his image on a sketch by Morison's daughter. The two women are fishwives, and are probably based on photographs taken by Hill and Adamson at Leith.

Image © National Galleries of Scotland. Purchased with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund 1984