Series of Medallion Portraits in Paste by James Tassie, pp.166-168.

[Scottish National Memorials Contents]

Lent by J. R. Findlay, V.-P.S.A. Scot. (Nos. 1119-1137.) 

   James Tassie was born at Pollokshaws, near Glasgow, in 1735; and while working there in his youth as a mason, managed to study art in the Glasgow Academy of Fine Art, with David Allan, under the brothers Robert and Andrew Foulis. He afterwards spent some time in Dublin, where he made the acquaintance of Dr. Quin, the inventor of an enamel subsequently used by Tassie for casting his ‘gems.’ He settled in London, 1766, and rapidly became famous for his cameos and intaglios in coloured pastes and white enamel, and for his portraits of the celebrities of his day, which he first modelled in wax, and then cast in Quin’s enamel. He worked for Wedgwood for some years before Flaxman, and was engaged in the reproduction of the Barberini or Portland Vase, from casts from a model that had been taken before it was brought to this country. In 1775 Tassie published his first Catalogue, and in the year of his death, 1791, his second Catalogue with descriptions in French and English by Raspe, and illustrations by David Allan, was issued. In his lifetime he enamelled 16,000 ‘gems,’ and the work was continued by his nephew, William Tassie, who raised the number of ‘gems’ to 20,000. The latter died in 1860, leaving a fine collection of the ‘Tassie Gems’ to the National Gallery of Scotland, and the remainder to his nephew, the Rev. W. H. Vernon. Mr. Vernon’s collection was dispersed after his death in 1882. 

   REV. JOHN HOME. Born at Leith, 1722: educated for Church; entered Royal Army, 1745; prisoner at battle of Falkirk, 1746; minister in East Lothian, 1746: wrote Tragedy of Douglas, performed in Edinburgh, 1756; it was popular, but gave offence to the Presbytery; resigned his living; wrote History of the Rebellion of 1745; died 1808. 


   REV. HUGH BLAIR, D.D. Born 1718; M.A., 1739; presented to Collessie, 1742; second minister of Canongate, 1743; in Lady Vester’s and High Church; procured institution of Chair of Rhetoric in Edinburgh University, and was first Professor, 1762-83; wrote Sermons, 1770-1800; Dissertation concerning Ossian, 1762; died 1800. 


   PROFESSOR THOMAS REID, D.D. Born at Strachan, 1710; studied at Aberdeen for the Church; ordained to the charge of the parish of New Machar, 1737; Professor of Moral Philosophy, Aberdeen; Inquiry into the Human Mind, 1764; succeeded Adam Smith as Professor of Logic, Glasgow, 1764; Essay on Intellectual Powers, 1785; On the Active Powers, 1788; died at Glasgow, 1796. The original drawing for this medallion is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. 


   ADAM SMITH, LL.D. Born at Kirkcaldy, 1723; educated there, and at Glasgow and Oxford Universities; Professor of Logic in the University of Glasgow, 1751, and of Moral Philosophy, 1752-63; Commissioner of Customs in Scotland; Lord Rector of Glasgow University, 1787; published Theory of Moral Sentiments, 1759; Wealth of Nations, 1776; died 1790. With the exception of two etchings by Kay, this and another medallion also by Tassie are the only contemporaneous portraits of the author of the Wealth of Nations that are known to exist. (See Plate XXIII.) 


Plate XXIII. – Paste Medallion Portraits by James Tassie.

Adam Smith.                                                  Professor Joseph Black.

John Hunter.

Hon. Henry Erskine.                                                          David Hume.

DAVID DALE. Born at Stewarton, 1739; weaver in Paisley till 1761, when he settled in Glasgow and dealt in yarn; established the first Turkey-red dye-works in Scotland, 1775-83; the first agent in Glasgow of the Royal Bank of Scotland, 1783; erected New Lanark Spinning Mills, 1785, with schools for the workers, aided by his son-in-law Robert Owen (for portrait and biographical notice see p. 230); twice a magistrate of Glasgow, and by reason of his public beneficence known as ‘The Benevolent Magistrate’; died 1806. (For portrait and biographical notice see p. 228.) 


   JAMES HUTTON, M.D. Geologist; son of an Edinburgh City Treasurer; born 1726; educated at High School and University; studied Medicine in Paris and Leyden; along with James Davis made experiments in Agricultural Chemistry; settled in Edinburgh, 1768; published Investigations of the Principles of Knowledge, 1794; Theory of the Earth, 1795; died 1797. 


   PROFESSOR DUGALD STEWART. Philosopher; born at Edinburgh, 1753; educated at High School, Edinburgh, and University of Glasgow; Professor of Moral Philosophy, Edinburgh, 1785; founded ‘Speculative Society’; retired 1810; author of Philosophy of the Human Mind, Outlines of Moral Philosophy, and Biographies of Adam Smith and Thomas Reid, etc.; died 1828. 


   REV. WILLIAM ROBERTSON, D.D. Historian; born 1721; pastor of Gladsmuir, 1743; celebrated for his eloquence; influential member of General Assembly; Chaplain in ordinary to King, 1761; Principal of Edinburgh University, 1761; published History of Scotland, 1759; Reign of Charles V., 1769; History of America, 1777; died 1793. 


   PROFESSOR JOSEPH BLACK, M.D. Born at Bordeaux, of Scotch parents, 1728; educated at Belfast, and at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh; M.D., 1754; succeeded Dr. Cullen in Chair of Chemistry at Glasgow, 1756; and in his Edinburgh Chair, 1766; investigated the subject of ‘latent heat,’ 1759-1763; died 1799. His Elements of Chemistry published 1803. (See Plate XXIII.) 


   JOHN HUNTER. Anatomist and Surgeon; born at Long Calderwood, Lanarkshire, 1728; settled for some time in Glasgow; studied surgery in London; Army Surgeon in Portugal, 1762; Surgeon to St. George’s Hospital, 1768; wrote on professional subjects; died 1793. His museum purchased by Government for the Royal College of Surgeons. (See Plate XXIII.) 


   JOHN MILLAR. Born at Shotts, 1735; studied at the University of Glasgow; Professor of Law at that University, 1761-1801; Lord Brougham and Lord Jeffrey were amongst his pupils; Observations concerning the Distinctions of Ranks in Society, 1771; Historical View of the English Government, 1797; died at Millheugh, 1801. 


   JAMES GREGORY, M.D. Born at Aberdeen, 1753; the son of Professor John Gregory; Professor of Theory of Physic, Edinburgh, 1776; succeeded Dr. Cullen as Professor of Practice of Physic, 1790; President of the Royal College of Physicians, 1798; wrote Conspectus Medicinæ Theoreticæ, Philosophical and Literary Essays, etc.; died 1821. 


   GEORGE CHALMERS, F.R.S., F.S.A. Born at Fochabers, Morayshire, 1742; educated there, at Aberdeen, and at Edinburgh; settled as a lawyer at Baltimore; left on opening of War, 1775; Clerk to Board of Trade, 1786: published Caledonia, 1807-24, Lives of Queen Mary, Ruddiman, Ramsay, etc.; died 1825. 


   DAVID HUME. Born at Edinburgh, 1711; at Edinburgh University; in business house at Bristol, 1734; went to France, and wrote Treatise on Human Nature, published 1739; Essays, 1741-2; Secretary to General St. Clair; Librarian to Faculty of Advocates, 1752; History of England, 1754-61-2; Under-Secretary of State; died 1776. (See Plate XXIII.) 


   WILLIAM CULLEN, M.D. Born at Hamilton. 1710; M.D. Glasgow, 1740; Lecturer on Chemistry in the University of Glasgow, 1746, and Professor of Medicine there, 1751; Professor of Chemistry in Edinburgh, 1756; colleague and successor to Dr. Gregory in Chair of Medicine; made important contributions to Literature of Medicine, Chemistry, and Physiology; died 1790. 


   HENRY ERSKINE. Born in Edinburgh, 1746; admitted Advocate, 1768; in extensive practice; supported Evangelical party in General Assembly; Lord Advocate, 1783; Dean of Faculty, 1786; Lord Advocate, and M.P. for Dumfries Burghs, 1806-7; retired 1812; died 1817. (See Plate XXIII.) 


   SIR BENJAMIN THOMSON, COUNT RUMFORD. Born in Massachusetts, 1753; joined army on outbreak of American War; sent to England with despatches, 1776; four years later made Under-Secretary for State in England; 1779, made Fellow of Royal Society; knighted by George III.; was Minister to Elector of Bavaria at Munich for eleven years; 1791, was created a Count of the Holy Empire; returned to England and founded the Royal Institution; 1804, settled in France, where he died 1814. 


   SIR THOMAS MILLER, LORD GLENLEE. Born 1717; Advocate, 1742; Town Clerk of Glasgow; Solicitor-General, 1756; Lord Advocate, 1760; M.P. for the Dumfries Burghs, 1761-1766; Lord Rector of the Glasgow University, 1762; Lord Justice-Clerk, 1766: created a Baronet, 1789; died the same year. 


   BASIL WILLIAM, LORD DAER, second son of fourth Earl of Selkirk. Born 1763; a prominent member of the Society of the Friends of the People; died 1794. A small pencil portrait of Lord Daer, by John Brown, is in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery (Watson Collection). 



   COLLECTION OF 370 TASSIE GEMS, embracing 102 mottoes and sentiments, 50 Cupids, 111 heads, and 107 classical subjects. The greater part of these gems were obtained at the sale of the collection of the Rev. W. H. Vernon in 1882. 

(1118) Lent by SIR GEORGE BIRDWOOD. 

   SERIES OF PLASTER CASTS IN BASSO-RELIEVO, modelled from the cartoons of Raphael, by John Henning, about 1820. 

   Henning, the son of a Paisley joiner, was born in 1771, and trained to follow the employment of his father. His strong desire to follow an artistic career led him to study first in Glasgow and later in Edinburgh, where he modelled many busts and medallions in plaster. When forty years of age he settled in London, and devoted many years to producing miniature reproductions of the Elgin Marbles and other examples of Greek sculpture. He modelled these figures in low relief with a spirit and minute accuracy which cannot be excelled. Henning, who was one of the founders of the Society of British Artists, died in 1851. 


   ANDREW LUMISDEN. (See Fig. 118. and for biographical notice see page 148.) 


   ADMIRAL VISCOUNT DUNCAN. (See page 207.) 

(1028) Lent by A. C. LAMB. 

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