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Robert Burns

The True Face of Burns

20th Century

This artwork is made up of 101 individual paintings. Each measures 40 x 30cm and shows a slightly different version of a portrait of Robert Burns. The portraits are based on the famous portrait by Alexander Nasmyth which was painted during Burns' lifetime and is now in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.


The work was created to mark the 200th anniversary of the death of Robert Burns. It was exhibited in the Dick Institute, Kilmarnock, the town where the first edition of Burns' poems was printed.


Whilst the work was on display, a competion was run to guess which of the 101 images was the true image of Burns. The prize was one of the 101 canvases.


This competition and the title of the work refer to a long standing debate about what the poet really looked like and which portraits show his most faithful likeness.


The images that make up the work are reminiscent of Andy Warhol's silk-screen repeat portraits of icons such as Elvis and Marilyn Monroe. In using this style, Ramsay suggests that the poet's status in popular culture is on an equal level.

mixed media on board
The Dick Institute
Accession number:
Digital Number:
EAFA010a, b, c
Creation Date:
The Artist

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