Templar Knight at Roslin Chapel, R.T. McPherson, 1836

Picture
Signed and dated by Edinburgh artist R.T. McPherson. This enigmatic pastel painting was kept in the Dalhousie family private art collection for 154 years, before surfacing at Sotheby’s country house sale in 1990. It was auctioned again in 2005 by Shapes of Edinburgh when it was purchased by Niven Sinclair, who commissioned Ashley Cowie to study it.

This bold fusion of form and content depicts a Knight Templar Grand Commander adorned in a white cloak, holding a ritual sword, standing in Rosslyn Chapel. The image is composed of many symbolic and ritual objects, all of which can be related to Freemasonic and neo-Templar rituals. Because little visual material exists on these subjects, this painting offers a unique insight into the Templar and Freemasonic history of Scotland.

Picture
Robert Turnbull McPherson was active in Scotland between 1835 and 1837. Relatively little is known about his everyday life and indeed the whereabouts of most of his works also remains a mystery. Staff at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery were unaware of the existence of this painting until it was presented to them by the author. McPherson’s painting offers viewers an artistic voyage into the architectural genius of Rosslyn Chapel, but more so, into the world of 19th century Masonic rituals and the revival of interest in the Knights Templar. The content, and what each of the features represents within this piece of art, make it a true historical treasure which has been hidden for over 150 years.