Sir John Watson Gordon was a portrait painter and President of the Royal Scottish Academy. Eight years after his death in 1864, his siblings Henry and Frances endowed The Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Art at the University of Edinburgh.

The annual Watson Gordon Lecture was established following the 125th anniversary of the endowment and marks the long-standing collaboration between the University of Edinburgh and National Galleries Scotland. 

The 2021 Watson Gordon Lecture

18 November 2021 | Professor Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw | “Shadowing Diana: Paint and the Black Body” | Online (Delivered by National Galleries Scotland)

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The 2019 Watson Gordon Lecture (rescheduled to 2020)

1 April 2020 | Dr Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Director of History, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC | White House/White Cube: Portraits, Paintings, and the American Presidency | Scottish National Gallery, Hawthornden Lecture Theatre | 6pm

Find out more >  This event has been cancelled. 


The 2018 Watson Gordon Lecture

8th November 2018 | Professor Cynthia Hahn, the City University of New York | Heart’s Desire: From Christ, to Crown, to Eros | Scottish National Gallery | 6pm

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The 2017 Watson Gordon Lecture

9th November 2017 | Professor Joseph Masheck (Hofstra University, New York) | Classic Mondrian in Neo-Calvinist View | Scottish National Gallery | 6pm

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About the Watson Gordon Lecture

The annual Watson Gordon Lecture is part of our History of Art Research Seminar Series. All MSc students in History of Art are expected to attend this lecture, which usually takes place in the Hawthornden Lecture Theatre of the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound and is also open to the public.

The most recent Watson Gordon Lecture was given by Dr Helen Langdon, formerly Assistant Director of the British School at Rome, writer, scholar, and curator. Her talk was entitled Caravaggio, the Caravaggisti and Cupid and took place on 24th November 2016.

Previous speakers include Robert Storr (Yale School of Art), David Bomford (The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston) and Hal Foster (Princeton University).

The current Watson Gordon Chair of Fine Art is Professor Richard Thomson. An expert in late nineteenth century art, with particular expertise in French art, Richard teaches on our MA programme and on our MSc course on Impressionism and the Third Republic.

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