Thursday, January 26, 2017


This is another picture that I really like from the gallery we visited the other day. It's a trompe l'oeil painting of a pinboard by Thomas Warrender, a Scottish artist. He lived from about 1650-1713. Other artists before and after him have painted similar pinboards, notably Evert Collier, a Dutch artist who died in 1708.

As you might imagine, Warrender doesn't seem to have chosen the items on his pinboard at random. The date 1708 is the latest date on the printed material on the board, so presumably the painting was completed at some time after that. 1707 saw the union of the Scottish and English parliaments,

and the booklet at the top right says, "The Dangers of Popery Discovered", while the one in the middle at the top says, "A Solemn League and Covenant". The Covenanters belonged to a Presbyterian movement.

According to Wikipedia, the overlapping playing cards symbolise the union of the two countries. But the dividers (if that's what they are)? the white feathers? the medallion?

And I'm not sure who this chap is. Queen Anne was on the throne in 1708, so it's not her. He looks more like James the Second (and Seventh of Scotland) but that doesn't seem likely. I wonder if it's Thomas Warrender himself? Isn't it fascinating? - a little message from long ago. (Not that it's an entirely clear message nowadays.)

If you'd like to see a better photo than my phone's camera could manage, then Google-image Still Life - Thomas Warrender.


  1. I love trompe l'oeil paintings. Once went to an exhibit of them at the Smithsonian in DC

  2. So much history and commentary in just one painting. I am in awe of what we can learn (or ponder on) from what has survived from long ago.

  3. White feathers = QUILLS!

  4. Why am I surprised that it's a pinboard? and I love the ribbons and hair comb.

  5. Now see -- the 18th century version of Pinterest! ;-D

  6. If only we could work out the symbolism of the painting!