Robert Burns, after Archibald Skirving

© Calum Colvin. All Rights Reserved, DACS 2024. Image credit: Scottish Parliament Art Collection

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This portrait explores ideas about the poetry, life and fame of poet Robert Burns (1759–1796). The artist made a drawing of Burns to project onto a 3d wasteland by referring to a 1796 drawing by Archibald Skirving, in turn inspired by a portrait from life by Alexander Nasmyth. Objects in the background tableau refer to some of Burns’ poetry. An image of Burns with Maori tattoos highlights how Burns has been celebrated as an indigenous poet. A shattered Elvis mirror hints at the sometimes reductive aspects of fame that can distort a writer’s legacy. The impact of the Scottish Enlightenment and religion on Scotland’s education and history are highlighted by the inclusion of 'Encyclopaedia Britannica' volumes and a Bible.

The Scottish Parliament



Robert Burns, after Archibald Skirving




digital photograph printed on canvas


H 133 x W 107.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

purchased following a loan

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Normally on display at

The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH99 1SP Scotland

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