Following the controversial publication of an article in the Burlington Magazine arguing that The Skating Minister – one of Britain’s most loved paintings – had actually been painted by a Frenchman, writer and broadcaster Alan Taylor set out to investigate.
The portrait of Reverend Robert Walker cheerfully skating on Duddingston Loch has long been held to be one of Sir Henry Raeburn’s masterpieces. Brought to the National Gallery of Scotland in 1949 by director Ellis Waterhouse from the collection of the great grand-daughter of the sitter, it has become an international icon.
But has scholarship changed, and could the court painter of the last French King really be the artist at work? Or did the elderly great-granddaughter of a Scottish minister fool all the art experts?
This film presents compelling new evidence that has shed important new light on The Skating Minister’s attribution, and reveals that at least two important related works remain missing.
First shown BBC Scotland music and arts strand Ex-S, 2006
Dr Duncan Thompson – former Keeper of the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland
Stephen Lloyd – Curator
Michael Clarke – Director, National Gallery of Scotland
John Dick – Former Head of Conservation, National Gallery of Scotland
Charles Robertson – Minister of the Canongate Church 1978-2005
Written by Alan Taylor
Additional Research – Peter Barr
Music – Paul Millns
Director of Photography – Chris Cox
Director – Jan Leman
Producer – Sarah Lawrence
The painting today in the National Gallery of Scotland:
Alan Taylor latest book: “Appointment in Arezzo” :