Wednesday, 24 June 2015


John Leighton’s selection of highlights includes major works by some of the most celebrated names in art history, from Titian, Rembrandt and Vermeer right through to Picasso, Hockney and Warhol. This beautifully designed book, which runs to 240 pages and is published in both hardback and paperback editions, evokes the collection’s special character, highlighting the distinctive interplay between Scottish and international art.

Sir John Leighton was appointed Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland in 2006, having previously been Director of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and Curator of 19th-century paintings at the National Gallery in London.

Over the last nine years he has overseen many notable additions to the NGS collections, including Diana and Actaeon and Diana and Callisto, Titian’s two great mythological masterpieces, which were jointly acquired with the National Gallery in London in 2009 and 2012.

John Leighton has also been closely involved with ARTIST ROOMS, a unique collection of modern and contemporary art, jointly acquired with the Tate Gallery, which is shown in an annual programme of displays in venues across the whole of the UK.

100 Masterpieces has been generously sponsored by the Patrons of the National Galleries. In the book, Leighton highlights the role that individuals and organizations such as the Art Fund and the Heritage Lottery Fund have played in enriching the national collections.

John Leighton studied Fine Art at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art and has enjoyed a close connection to the NGS collection for more than 35 years. 100 Masterpieces includes a brief history of the Galleries, which traces the unique ways in which the collection has developed and grown since it was first established in 1859. The accompanying texts provide fascinating and personal insights into the history, meaning and significance of a diverse range of works, from Leonardo’s delicate and beautiful Study of a Dog’s Paw to Martin Creed’s striking, playful neon Work No.975: EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, which adorns the façade of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

Other highlights include Sandro Botticelli’s The Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child; the 1766 Allan Ramsay portrait of David Hume; Sir Walter Scott, 1822-3 by Sir Henry Raeburn and Paul Gauguin’s hugely influential Vision of the Sermon(Jacob Wrestling with the Angel), 1888.

There will be a public launch of 100 Masterpieces on the evening of Wednesday 8 July between 2 and 4pm at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. This free event will include an introduction and book signing from John Leighton.

Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland, said: “This book is intended to celebrate the amazing quality and range of Scotland’s national art collections which rank among the best in the world. The book is also a tribute to the people who have helped to shape the collection since the National Gallery of Scotland first opened back in the 19th century, including the 
many benefactors, donors and patrons who have wished to share their passion for art with the wider public.”

100 Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland
Price: Paperback: £24.95, Hardback: £35
Publisher: National Galleries of Scotland
Author: Sir John Leighton
Size, binding: Both 280 x 240mm
Pages: 240
Publication date: June 2015
Illustrations: 150
ISBN: Paperback: 978 1 906270 01 8
ISBN: Hardback: 978 1 906270 73 5

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