Hugh Buchanan paints the John Murray Archive

New watercolours are displayed alongside original literary treasures from the Library's collection. From 25 June until 6 September.

 

Buchanan's watercolour of John Murray's ledger
'Murray at his ledger'
All images © Hugh Buchanan.

The rich literary history of the John Murray Archive comes to life through paintings in this treasures display at the National Library of Scotland.

Watercolours are on show alongside the letters, manuscripts and volumes from the Murray publishing archive that inspired them.

 

Exploring the archive

Hugh Buchanan
Hugh Buchanan

Hugh Buchanan is a Scottish artist known for his paintings of historic buildings, libraries and archives.

In 2013, National Library Curator David McClay asked Buchanan to work with the extensive literary treasures of the John Murray Archive to produce a series of paintings.

Over a six-month period, the artist immersed himself in what is one of the largest and most important literary archives in the world.

He explored materials from some of the greatest writers of the 19th to the mid-20th centuries.

 

The paintings

Laying out passports, tickets, correspondence and other items, Buchanan arranged compositions from the archive.

The results were 19 carefully composed paintings, inspired and informed by nine authors' works, their lives and their legacies.

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Jane Austen

Jane Austen
(1775-1817)

John Murray II published several of Austen's most famous works, including 'Emma', 'Northanger Abbey' and 'Persuasion'.

'Jane Austen and Emma' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Isabella Bird

Isabella Bird
(1831-1904)

A famous traveller of the world, Bird's passports, travel documents and writings about her journeys are a colourful and vibrant addition to the archive.

'Isabella Bird' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Lord Byron

Lord Byron
(1788-1824)

The archive's Byron collections are the largest in the world. The poet's vibrant correspondence from abroad are an important part of the archive.

'Byron from Pisa' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(1859-1930)

Conan Doyle became a John Murray author in 1917 when John Murray IV acquired his previous publisher.

'The hound of the Baskervilles' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Patrick Leigh Fermor

Patrick Leigh Fermor
(1915-2011)

An esteemed travel writer, Leigh Fermor travelled the world throughout the 20th century, collecting passports, visas and maps which are now part of the archive.

'Paddy's passports' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of James Hogg

James Hogg
(1770-1835)

The author of 'The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner' corresponded with fellow writers and publishers, including Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott.

'Hogg to Murray' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Washington Irving's work

Washington Irving
(1783-1859)

John Murray was Irving's British publisher, bringing 'The legend of Sleepy Hollow' and Rip Van Winkle to readers outside of the author's native United States of America.

'Sleepy Hollow' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Osbert Lancaster

Osbert Lancaster
(1908-1986)

Lancaster's daily cartoons were published in the 'Daily Express' newspaper for almost 40 years. Jock Murray published Lancaster's work as a cartoonist and satirist.

'Osbert' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

Detail from Hugh Buchanan watercolour of Sir Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott
(1771-1832)

The collections reflect Scott's complex relationship with money, along with an insight into his life through letters to friends and business associates.

'Scott's review of Childe Harold' painted by Hugh Buchanan

 

After being at the Library, 'Hugh Buchanan paints the John Murray Archive' will transfer to the John Martin Gallery, 38 Albemarle Street, London — only yards away from number 50, the archive's original home.

Visitors can buy an accompanying exhibition catalogue in the National Library of Scotland shop for £5. Shop opening hours

 


Opening hours

The display in our George IV Bridge Building is open daily:

Monday to Friday: 10.00-20.00
Saturday: 10.00-17.00
Sunday: 14.00-17.00

Admission free.

 


 

The treasures display in our George IV Bridge Building is a small sample of the millions of items in our collections. We change the display several times a year.

Past treasures displays

 

Exhibitions main page

 




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