Thomas Elder, Lord Provost of Edinburgh


John Kay (1742 - 1826)

$A 90

In stock

S/N: ASOOP-144–228863

Full Title:

Thomas Elder, Lord Provost of Edinburgh




John Kay (1742 - 1826)


In good condition



Image Size: 

x 130mm


Portrait showing Thomas Elder, Lord Provost of Edinburgh (1737 – 1799). Elder held the office of chief magistrate of the city over the course of three different periods, 1788 – 90, 1792-94, and 1796-8. During his second term of office he took a very active part in suppressing the meetings of the ‘Friends of the People’ (an organization in Great Britain that focused on advocating for Parliamentary reform). In 1795 Elder was appointed Postmaster General for Scotland. 

Kay etched and sold his caricature portraits individually from 1784 until the 1820’s. These individually issued etchings were collected over many years by Hugh Paton and issued as, A series of original portraits and caricature etchings by the late John Kay.


John Kay (1742-1826) 

Kay was a Scottish caricaturist and engraver.

He was born near Dalkeith, where his father was a mason. At thirteen he was apprenticed to a barber, whom he served for six years. He then went to Edinburgh, where in 1771 he obtained the freedom of the city by joining the corporation of barber-surgeons. In 1784 he published his first caricature, of Laird Robertson. In 1785, induced by the favour which greeted certain attempts of his to etch in aquafortis, he took down his barber’s pole and opened a small print shop in Parliament Close. There he continued to flourish, painting miniatures, and publishing at short intervals his sketches and caricatures of local celebrities and oddities, who abounded at that period in Edinburgh society. 

Kay’s famous shop on the Royal Mile was destroyed during the Great Edinburgh Fire of November 1824.

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