Beautiful Portraits in a Beautiful Building

I was recently lucky enough to attend a ceremony at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh.

While I have great admiration for the important surgical research, learning and work that is carried out by the college, I was amazed by the portrait collection housed there.

In the few hours that I was at the college I was only able to explore a fraction of the collection which is housed in the Playfair Building, a beautiful neo-classical building designed by the great Scottish architect William Henry Playfair.

Sir John Baptist de Medina

There seemed to be a portrait hung on every wall, with most being the work of Sir John Baptist de Medina. Some of Medina’s best known works are a series of approximately 30 oval-bust length portraits, many of which are housed at the college.

Oval Portrait by John Baptist Medina at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh

Archibald John Fisher by John Baptist de Medina (c 1700)
Oil on canvas, 74.6 x 61.5cm

Medina’s portraits often featured bright coloured clothes against a dark background, a style I have recently explored in my painting of a British Military Major.

While I didn’t have chance to take many photos during my visit there are a number of Medina’s paintings shown on the BBC Your Paintings website.

Another Scottish portrait painter with work in the College’s collection is William Aikman.

If you get the opportunity to visit the Royal College of Surgeons when next in Edinburgh then try and go. I’ll be certain to return when I next visit Scotland’s Capital.



While the portraits were impressive, so too was the neo-classical Playfair Building. I’ll try and show why in my next blog post.

Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh Portraits

Portraits in the Playfair Hall at the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh