Edinburgh enjoyed a truly remarkable 18th Century. From the despairing years that followed the unpopular 1707 Act of Union, the burgh emerged to become, by the end of the 18th Century, arguably the intellectual capital of Western Europe. Physically, too, the city was transformed. Thanks to the inspired leadership of Provost George Drummond, the city burst from the confines of its medieval walls and embarked on an ambitious plan to build the beautiful Georgian New Town.
These were exhilarating times indeed. John Kay (1742-1826) was a self-taught artist and engraver who had come to Edinburgh as a young man to work as a barber and hairdresser. However, in 1784 he abandoned his craft, and for the next 38 years he sketched and engraved his contemporaries. Some 358 of his engravings, with accompanying notes, were published posthumously as ‘Kay’s Portraits’ in 1837.
This remarkable man has left us images of intellectual giants of 'The Golden Age’ such as Joseph Black, James Hutton and Adam Smith; notable eccentrics such as Lord Gardenstone; the formidable Lord Braxfield; the notorious Deacon William Brodie; and a host of colourful characters who walked past his workshop behind St Giles in Edinburgh’s Parliament Close.
Porteous Service Room
589 Lanark Road
The venue is flat at street level