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In The Artists' Footsteps

Select a Story


Harbour Cottage Gallery Kirkcudbright - 60th Anniversary

Archie Sutter Watt

Nan S Fergusson (Mrs James Henderson) 1910 - 1984

E A Taylor

Edward Arthur Walton

Christian Jane (Chris) Fergusson

James Paterson

E. A. Hornel

Jankel Adler

Francis Campbell Boileau Cadell

William Hanna Clarke

William Daniell

George Wright

James Faed Junior

James Faed (Senior)

John Faed

Susan Bell Faed

The Faeds

David Gauld

The Glasgow Girls

Tom Gourdie

The Glasgow Boys

Francis Grose

George Henry

Anna and Isobel Hotchkis

James G (Tim) Jeffs

Jessie M King

Oskar Kokoschka

William Miles Johnston

John Maxwell

Henry Joseph Moule

William Mouncey

William Stewart MacGeorge

Charles Oppenheimer

Samuel John Peploe

William Bruce Ellis Ranken

William Robson

Charles William Stewart

Jim Sturgeon

Alick Riddell Sturrock

JMW Turner

Jemima Wedderburn

Christopher Whall

The Dumfries and Galloway Fine Art Society

Francis Grose

Most famous in Dumfries and Galloway for his friendship with Robert Burns, Captain Francis Grose was well-known throughout Britain for his artistry, knowledge of antiquities, wit and girth. The Dictionary of National Biography called him “a sort of antiquarian Falstaff”.



He was born in about 1730, the son of a wealthy jeweller who designed the crown for the coronation of King George III. After attending Shipley’s drawing school he was elected a member of the Incorporated Society of Artists in 1766, and became a member of the Society of Antiquaries in 1757. He followed a military career, until in 1769 he inherited his father’s considerable fortune. He must have run through it at a considerable pace, as by 1778 he had returned to the army as Captain and Adjutant of the Surrey Militia; that year he was court-martialled, probably for some “boyish prank”. His military duties seemed to lessen from the early 1780s onwards, allowing him more time for his antiquarian and other studies.



He had already issued the first part of his “Antiquities of England and Wales” in 1773, and this was completed in 1787; most of the drawings were his own. In 1788 he began work on “The Antiquities of Scotland” and stayed for over two months at Friar’s Carse, the home of Sir Robert Riddell. Robert Burns was living at the neighbouring property of Ellisland at the time, and was already on good terms with Sir Robert, and during Grose’s visit the two became “intimate acquaintances” according to Burns. Burns’ “On Captain Grose’s Peregrinations through Scotland” tells of Grose, and by inference their delight in each other’s company. Four of the stanzas are particularly relevant:-



Hear, Land o’ Cakes, and brither Scots,

Frae Maidenkirk to Johnny Groat’s;

If there’s a hole in a’ your coats,

                                    I rede ye tent it:

A chiel’s among ye, takin notes,

                                    And, faith, he’ll prent it.

If in your bounds ye chance to light

Upon a fine, fat, fodgel wight,

O’ stature short, but genius bright,

That’s he, mark weel;

And wow! He has an unco slight

                                    O’ cauk and keel.

But wad ye see him in his glee,

For meikle glee and fun has he,

Then set him down, and twa or three

                                    Guid fellows wi’ him;

And port, O port! Shine though a wee,

                                    And then ye’ll see him!

Now, by the powers o’ verse and prose!

Thou art a dainty chiel, O Grose!

Wha’er o’ thee shall ill suppose,

                                    They sair misca’ thee;

I’d take the rascal by the nose,

                                    Wad say, Shame fa’ thee!



In a way, Grose inspired Burns to his greatest work; he agreed to insert a description of Kirk Alloway into the “Antiquities” if Burns, in return, provided a poetic version of the story of witches there. The result was “Tam o’Shanter”.



Burns may have particularly enjoyed another of Grose’s books, “A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue”, published in 1785. Soon after completing the Scottish books Grose commenced the “Antiquities of Ireland” and died in Dublin in 1791.



In a poem of 1773 written about Grose

He’s judged, as artist, to inherit

No small degree of Hogarth’s spirit



And in 1788 his “Rules for drawing Caricaturas, with an essay on Comic Painting” was published, which contained ingenious diagrams. But it was his drawings in the “Antiquities” volumes that have ensured his place in artistic history.


Francis Grose - Amisfield House

Francis Grose - Amisfield House

Francis Grose - Dundrennan Abbey

Francis Grose - Dundrennan Abbey

Francis Grose - Laggan Stone

Francis Grose - Laggan Stone

Francis Grose - Torthorwald Castle

Francis Grose - Torthorwald Castle