A study of the emergence of a particular kind of
Scottish cultural consciousness in the years
after the Union of 1707.
Setting the Scene
The Artists


The general conception of eighteenth century Scottish culture is of its being an extraordinary flourishing of the Italian classical style in Northern Britain - its label, the Scottish Renaissance, obviously recognizes and perpetuates this fact. It is also a fact, however, that it is in the eighteenth century, after the Treaty of Union of 1707 that a particular awareness of the values of a unique Scottish culture emerges. The sense of a "Scottish" consciousness that is very precise and articulate at this time is of great interest and importance in itself, but also because it established a vital tradition in Scotland that has nourished many of this country's greatest artists. It is the fact of this eighteenth century national revival that is the subject of this dissertation.

The qualities of this "counter-culture" that asserts old values in the face of Union prosperity and fashionable European classicism can be seen as a "unified cultural sensibility", a phrase first used by T.S. Eliot, referring to the world of the metaphysical poets in Elizabethan England. There was unified artistic intercourse in Scotland and a unity of science, philosophy, medicine and the arts. There was a social unity in that, in a true folk culture, there were few class distinctions and a widely educated public. There was an awareness of an old cultural tradition stretching back beyond the chaotic years of the Mediaeval Period to the heroic societies of the Celtic period, a tradition for which Scottish artists were responsible, not just in local but also in European terms.

In this dissertation, I will attempt to

  1. Explain the general cultural situation in Scotland in the early eighteenth century,
  2. Deal at some length with the different artists in eighteenth century Scottish culture, but concentrate on those artists committed to the Scottish dimension in their art.

Introduction Setting the Scene The Artists Index