18th-century Scottish family group portraits, 29 March 2022

12 January 2022
An exploration of how family life was portrayed in 18th-century portraits, by Dr Nel Whiting.

29 March 2022, 6.30pm UK time


Significant changes in the way family life was depicted in portraiture occurred during the 18th century in Scotland, as elsewhere. These can be summarized as a move away from formal and obviously posed constructions towards a more spontaneous seeming moment captured on canvas, and an increasing emphasis on the emotional engagement between the subjects. Correlated with this was a recognition that childhood and youth were distinct life-stages.  

Changing notions of family life

In relation to family as household, portraits often contained not just parents and children but other relations and servants or retainers. Furthermore, portraits could simultaneously engage with notions of family life and broader political issues of the day.  

This illustrated paper by Dr Nel Whiting offers a close reading of a set of family group portraits by the Scottish artists to explore what is implied about the gendered socio-cultural expectations of elite Scottish family life in the later 18th century.

Content continues after advertisements

Event details

Join Dr Nel Whiting on 29 March 2022 for a 50-minute talk followed by a 30-minute Q&A. The webinar will be recorded and the recording made available to ticket holders for 7 days after broadcast.

The event will be chaired by Dr Allan Kennedy, senior lecturer in history at the University of Dundee, and History Scotland’s consultant editor.

Registration fee: £10. Starts 6.30pm UK time. To find the start time in your time zone, visit TimeAndDate.

Speaker details


Dr Nel Whiting completed her AHRC funded inter-disciplinary PhD at the University of Dundee in 2019.  She used Scottish family group portraits from the second half of the 18th century along with  archival sources to investigate gendered constructions of national and familial identity. She was awarded the Leah Leneman Essay Prize 2010 by Women's History Scotland for new writing in Scottish gender history.

Book now for just £10 and guarantee your place...

Registration fee: £10. Starts 6.30pm (UK time) on 12 January 2022. To find the start time in your time zone, visit TimeAndDate.

Book your ticket here!