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THE TEN BEST SCOTTISH FINE ART COLLECTIONS

Ian Sclater

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Some of Scotland's historic houses are also home to fine art collections. Many of these palatial piles rose up over the course of the 18th century, reflecting a more stable, enlightened and prosperous Scotland. The architect and designer brothers, Robert and William Adam, particularly benefited from commissions made possible by this new-found wealth. But it's not just the family silver or lavishly appointed boudoirs you'll see on your visit. Some owners spent their money on art, building impressive collections. Others have turned rooms and grounds into galleries and sculpture gardens to exhibit work by local and international artists.
Mellerstain House & Gardens

Named one of Britain's ten best stately homes by The Telegraph, Mellerstain House was built over half a century between 1725 and 1778. The vaulted halls of the old servants' quarters are now a dramatic art gallery. This year's Summer Exhibition features paintings by Calum McClure, winner of the 2011 Jolomo Award for landscape painting, the largest art prize in the UK (£25,000).

Paxton House, Gallery and Country Park

One of Britain's finest examples of 18th century Palladian country houses, Paxton House is also a partner gallery of the National Galleries of Scotland, with over 70 paintings from the late 18th and early 19th centuries on permanent loan from the national collections. This year its Hayloft Gallery launches a new exhibition of Georgian costume coupled with contemporary fashion by textile and design students.

Floors Castle & Gardens

Floors Castle owes much of its attraction for art-lovers to the American heiress Mary Goelet, who married the 8th Duke of Roxburghe in 1903 and brought her outstanding collection of fine art with her. It includes Gobelin tapestries, works by Matisse and Bonnard and a commode which the visiting director of the Louvre recognised as the twin of one in his museum.

Pollok House

Set in tranquil parkland, Pollok House is presented today as it would have looked around 1930. Along with period furnishings, silverware and ceramics, there is a fine art collection, including major pieces by the English artist and poet William Blake and one of the finest collections anywhere of Spanish art, including works by El Greco, Goya and Murillo.

The Hill House

The Hill House is a work of art in itself. One of designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh´s finest creations, it has sweeping views of the Firth of Clyde. As well as the house, Mackintosh also designed most of the interiors, furniture and decorative fittings, even prescribing the colour of cut flowers so that they would match the decor.

Fyvie Castle

One of the top visitor attractions in the northeast of Scotland, the magnificent Scottish Baronial fortress Fyvie Castle has a rich portrait collection comprising 18th and 19th century masterpieces, including works by Batoni, Lawrence, Millais, Hoppner, Gainsborough and Romney. The castle also boasts one of world's largest private collections of works by Scotland's greatest portraitist, Sir Henry Raeburn.

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