The Skating Minister

This week I've been embracing hibernation and looking after my sick little youngest child who seemed to have flu but thankfully only has a bad cold.

Wonderful Winter

In my online wanderings, I came across a delightful video in which the BBC's John Sergeant enjoys Edinburgh's iconic painting, affectionately known as The Skating Minister. Or more formally, The Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch, by Sir Henry Raeburn. 

The subject of the painting, the Reverend Walker was immersed in the world of the Scottish Enlightenment and counted Adam Smith, author of Wealth of Nations, among his congregants.

Winter is freedom in Henry Raeburn’s portrait of a minister in black hat, coat and stockings skating on Duddingston Loch in about 1795. The confident grace of the Reverend Robert Walker as he slides with perfect control across a slippery sheet of frozen water is infectious; he makes it look so easy. He is a hero of the Scottish Enlightenment, expressing through his wintry flight what economists and historians were achieving in the Edinburgh of his day: the triumph of reason. The mountains beyond look truly bleak and terrible. But the skating minister floats in joy, taking his rational exercise.
Jonathan Jones, The Guardian
... a picture of wit and beauty that, while it intrigues, expresses a
well-being of the spirit.
— The Skating Minister by Duncan Thomson, The National Galleries of Scotland

Accessible Art

This painting has become an icon representing Scotland. Yet it was practically unknown before 1949, when the National Galleries of Scotland purchased it for a pittance. For almost two centuries it had resided in obscurity, owned by descendants of the painting's subject. 

But now it is both familiar and wildly popular, a popularity fueled as much by its loveliness as by merchandising and product possibilities, which you can see amply displayed in the museum store of the National Galleries of Scotland, in the video below.

Enjoy the video and this lovely painting and I will be back next week with more Paper Blogging thoughts from hopefully a healthy if not a snowbound home.

(You can expand the video to full screen with the icon below and to the right.)