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John Kay - Artist of Edinburgh's Golden Age

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Porteous' Service Room

589 Lanark Road

Juniper Green

Edinburgh

EH14 5DE

United Kingdom

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While entrance is free, donations are appreciated (£2 per person suggested) and can be made at the event.

Edinburgh enjoyed a truly remarkable 18th century. From the despairing years that followed the unpopular 1707 Act of Union, the burgh emerged to become, by the end of the 18th century, arguably the intellectual capital of Western Europe. Physically, too, the city was transformed. Thanks to the inspired leadership of Provost George Drummond, the city burst from the confines of its medieval walls and embarked on an ambitious plan to build the beautiful Georgian New Town. These were exhilarating times indeed. John Kay (1742 - 1826) was a self-taught artist and engraver who had come to Edinburgh as a young man to work as a barber and hairdresser. However, in 1784 he abandoned his craft and for the next 38 years he sketched and engraved his contemporaries. Some 358 of his engravings, with accompanying notes, were published posthumously as ‘Kay’s Portraits’ in 1837. This remarkable man has left us images of intellectual giants of ‘The Golden Age’ such as Joseph Black, James Hutton and Adam Smith; notable eccentrics such as Lord Gardenstone; the formidable Lord Braxfield; the notorious Deacon William Brodie, and a host of colourful characters who walked past his workshop behind St Giles in Edinburgh’s Parliament Close.

Eric Melvin graduated with First Class Honours in History and Political Thought from Edinburgh University in 1967. He qualified as a secondary teacher of History and Modern Studies and retired from teaching in 2005, working latterly as Headteacher at Currie Community High School.

Eric has had several books published by John Murray for younger readers on aspects of Scottish History as well as Discovering Scotland for Ladybird. His most recent books are A Walk Down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, A Walk Through Edinburgh’s New Town and Mary, Queen of Scots. The Edinburgh of John Kay was published early in 2017.

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Porteous' Service Room

589 Lanark Road

Juniper Green

Edinburgh

EH14 5DE

United Kingdom

View Map

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