‘Battle of Largs’ Memorial Commission

Thank you  to David Agnew of Ayrshire for sharing the following insight into William Hole’s work:

“I have attached a sketch by William Hole from 1910 which has been in my family’s possession since that time. My great-grandfather, John Stewart of Largs, Ayrshire was the initiator of a campaign to erect a ‘Battle of Largs’ memorial. Having seen some of Holes’s work in Edinburgh, he commissioned  Hole to sketch Alexander III looking out onto the Firth of Clyde and here it is. It was to be cast in bronze and as such, proved to be too expensive a project; thus a round tower known as ‘The Pencil’ was built in 1912.”

The sketch is entitled: Sketch Design for a Statue of K. Alexander III to be erected on the Site of the Battle of Largs. It is dated April 1910.

Nativity Scene Goes For A Song

A 96-year-old watercolour by William Hole depicting a nativity scene, recently sold on eBay for just £43.  The auction finished on 17th November and attracted 21 bids. The watercolour, an original by the artist, was signed and dated Xmas 1916.  It was completed less than twelve months before the artist passed away in 1917.

Click on the picture to view the auction details now.

Scottish History Captured in Hole Paintings

Around the beginning of the twentieth century, William Hole was commissioned to create a number of paintings depicting key events in Scottish history. Today, these are displayed within the ‘European Room’ at the Edinburgh City Chambers. They are worth a visit if you are in Edinburgh:

Year      Short Name

——       Prince Charles Edward in Edinburgh 1745

1903      Signing the National Covenant 1638

——       News of the Accession of James VI, 1603

1910      Queen Mary enters Edinburgh in 1567

1904      State Entry of Queen Mary in 1561

1910      Queen Mary’s farewell to Scotland in 1548

——       News of Flodden in 1513

1902      Coronation of James II in 1437

1906      Presentation of a Charter to King Robert the Bruce in 1329

The paintings can be viewed by following the link – HERE.

Thank you to Peder Aspen from OSP Archives for help with this information.

Updated Website Launch

The William Hole website was first launched twenty months ago – in April 2010. During the intervening period a significant amount of research has been conducted into the life and work of William Brassey Hole; even a long-lost manuscript has been republished. The website was originally designed to share some basic information about William Hole but, as our research has continued and others have come forward with new and interesting snippets of information, we have added to the site and continue to do so; so much so, that it has now outgrown the rather basic format we initially created.

With this in mind, and to ensure continued interest in William Hole, it gives us great pleasure to relaunch the website for 2012 in a new, more modern format. This will provide scope for further development and expansion over the coming months and years.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their continued interest in William Hole and for their support of our website. We wish you all a very happy New Year and look forward to keeping in touch throughout 2012; please continue to send us your news and views on William Hole’s work.

New Book Published About William Hole

William Hole, R.S.A., Miscellaneous Memories Of A Lifetime by Elizabeth Hole, recounts fond miscellaneous memories of forty-one years’ companionship alongside her husband, William Hole.

She provides us with an eclectic mix of fresh, lively anecdotes and family memories, creating a unique insight into the artist who painted, amongst other works, the mural frieze and decoration at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.

First published in 1920 as Memories of William Hole by his Wife, her manuscript has been skilfully updated but retains original period charm. The book has never been reprinted and so, ninety years on, copies of the original volume are scarce but remain sought-after by collectors, many of whom first came across the artist through his book, The Life of Jesus of Nazareth; the religious illustrations have been published worldwide since 1906.

The new edition has also been updated to include, as appendices: the heart-warming biography of William Hole by his life-long friend – the highly accomplished and respected Scottish academician, Walter B. Blaikie; extracts from William Hole’s personal diaries of his second journey to the Holy Land in 1912; detailed listings of William Hole’s exhibits at the Royal Scottish Academy and at the Royal Academy, respectively.

The book was published in hardback (ISBN 9780952805953) on 25th November.  Costing just £20, it is available to buy from local book and gift shops as well as online here.

To buy now from within the UK and Europe (no charge for postage), please use the button below:


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Army Straggler Left Behind At Auction Sale

An original oil painting by William Hole went under the hammer (8th September, 2011) but failed to sell. Described as: “Straggler from Chevalier’s Army, is signed and dated 1888. Guide price: £4k-£6k.”

Our own research has identified a similar painting, A Straggler of the Chevalier’s Army, was in fact exhibited by Hole at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1880.  It was described by Wilfrid Meynell (1897) as: ‘”A Straggler from the Chevalier’s Army,” is a singularly vivid incident of the past – a passage of life which the artist would almost seem to have witnessed, so much familiarity and activity is there in his conception of the accidents of the scene. A wounded Highlander is attacked by the tagrag of an English village, and turns at bay. Here, too, the quality of movement is remarkable.’