This is a study of the Traquairs’ husband, a Scottish naturalist and paleontologist who became the first Keeper of the Natural History Collections at the Museum of Science and Art (later the National Museum of Scotland). Phoebe Anna Traquair made a number of studies of her family during the 1880s and 1890s, with a number used for figure studies in her mural schemes. In 1898 Ramsay was represented in Traquair's second children’s hospital chapel at Rillbank, south Edinburgh.
Phoebe Anna Traquair
Watercolour on paper
Phoebe Anna Traquair HRSA, 1852 - 1936
From the 1880s to the 1920s Phoebe Anna Traquair was known as one of Scotland’s leading muralists and craft artists. The daughter of a Dublin doctor, she had been born and educated in Ireland and settled in Edinburgh with her zoologist husband Dr Ramsay Heatley Traquair (1840-1912). Traquair’s admired Greek sculpture and the romance of Pre-Raphaelite painting, medieval craft as well as modern engineering. Her mentors above all were the great poets and writers of the past and present including Dante, Blake and Rossetti. She struck up friendships with artists including William Holman Hunt and briefly corresponded with John Ruskin in the late 1880s. Ruskin lent her medieval manuscripts to study and copy, and these, together with her reading, inspired a series of glorious illuminations of poetry. Above all she always enjoyed the challenges of mastering traditional crafts from embroidery to leather bookcover tooling and, after 1900, art enamelling on copper and silver. She had a professional studio space within the Dean Studio in Lynedoch Place, Edinburgh, from 1890.