Edinburgh, 77a Princes Street, Royal Scottish Academy
Art Gallery (Period Unassigned)
Site Name Edinburgh, 77a Princes Street, Royal Scottish Academy
Classification Art Gallery (Period Unassigned)
Alternative Name(s) Royal Institution; Rsa; The Mound; Society Of Antiquaries Of Scotland
Canmore ID 68128
Site Number NT27SE 242
NGR NT 25387 73845
Datum OSGB36 - NGR
- Council Edinburgh, City Of
- Parish Edinburgh (Edinburgh, City Of)
- Former Region Lothian
- Former District City Of Edinburgh
- Former County Midlothian
NT27SE 242 25387 73845
ARCHITECT: William Playfair, 1825-9, 1832-4.
Hippolyte J Blanc 1913 -design for library & council room
REFERENCE: NATIONAL GALLERY OF SCOTLAND
NG 1/59/7 12 Nov 1825 Wm Trotter- covering walls of exhibition room walls 3/4 wide Marone Baize. Floors Strong Grey Drugget. ?107.11.9
REFERENCE: SCOTTISH RECORD OFFICE
The New Gallery for the use of the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts.
Letter from James Skene indicates that the building is expected to be complete by October.
Edinburgh, The Mound, Royal Scottish Academy.
Edinburgh, various photographs by A. Burns.
Note cont: from Gilbert Ferrier of George St, Edinburgh.
The Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (http://www.pmsa.org.uk/) set up a National Recording Project in 1997 with the aim of making a survey of public monuments and sculpture in Britain ranging from medieval monuments to the most contemporary works. Information from the Edinburgh project was added to the RCAHMS database in October 2010 and again in 2012.
The PMSA (Public Monuments and Sculpture Association) Edinburgh Sculpture Project has been supported by Eastern Photocolour, Edinburgh College of Art, the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, Historic Scotland, the Hope Scott Trust, The Old Edinburgh Club, the Pilgrim Trust, the RCAHMS, and the Scottish Archive Network.
Field Visit (22 September 2008)
On top of the north pediment is the seated statue of Queen Victoria, wearing a crown, belted robe and an open cloak. In her right hand she holds a sceptre; her left hand rests on an orb which sits on top of two blocks on her left. The drapery of the cloak extends outwards to either side in a triangular shape.
A pair of sphinxes is placed at each of the four corners of the roof; two pairs facing east and two pairs facing west.
The Royal Scottish Academy was built by William Henry Playfair in 1822-6 and 1831-6 for the Board of Manufactures and Fisheries.
John Steell was commissioned to carve the sphinxes and the statue of Queen Victoria. On 21 January 1837 the Edinburgh Evening Post reported that it had 'just been favoured with an inspection of the model of a Colossal Sphinx'. The paper had been concerned that a Grecian building should be surmounted by Roman sphinxes, but having seen Steell's model it found that the 'objection has been entirely dissipated; as [Steell] has so modified its character, that it is rendered completely Grecian in its style and bearing' (1).
Over the course of January 1838, Queen Victoria sat for John Steell five times at Windsor Castle, for Steell to prepare a clay model. On 29 October 1842 The Scotsman reported that 'an immense block of freestone' from Binny Quarry had been delivered to a 'large wooden building in Bread-street', the last of a number of blocks which were to make up the colossal statue of the Queen. The paper reported that 'Mr Steell is already far advanced in the formation of this gigantic structure, which, when completed, will weigh upwards of ninety tons' (2). On 25 January 1844 the Caledonian Mercury reported that the statue 'which workmen have been employed for some time past in erecting on the top of the grand portico of the Royal Institution Buildings, immediately behind the apex, was opened to public viewing on the evening of Tuesday' (3).
Inscriptions : None
Signatures : None Visible
Design period : 1822-1826 and 1831-1836 (building)
Year of unveiling : 1844
Information from Public Monuments and Sculpture Association (PMSA Work Ref : EDIN1471)