This view of the west front of Melrose Abbey includes tourists visiting the ruins. It was painted in 1757 by Scottish landscape painter and decorator James Norie.
Melrose Abbey is the ruin of a magnificent Gothic building, situated in the town of Melrose on the Scottish Borders. The Abbey was founded in 1136 by David I and the town gradually grew up around it. Much of the existing ruins are thought to have been built in the late 14th century. The ruins were partly restored under the direction of poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott in 1822. Today, a carved stone plaque in the grounds marks the site where a heart cask was discovered and then re-buried in 1997. The discovery added weight to a theory that this is the burial place of Robert the Bruce’s heart.
Shortly after James Norrie’s death, two views showing the east and south fronts of the Abbey were painted in c.1769 by George Barret the elder (c.1732-1784) and are now in the collection of the Duke of Buccleuch at Drumlanrig Castle, Dumfriesshire. Barret also exhibited a work titled ‘Part of Melrose Abbey by Moonlight’ at the Royal Academy in 1769.
James Norie is thought to have been born in Morayshire, north eastern Scotland. He founded a successful firm of landscape painters and decorators in Edinburgh. His son, James Norie junior, was also a painter and father and son were founder members of the School of St Luke in Edinburgh, the first artist’s academy in Scotland. Norie had another son called Robert, whose descendants continued to run the family firm until 1850, decorating numerous Edinburgh homes. James Norie died in Edinburgh at about the age of 73. Today his works can be found at the National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, and Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum.
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