R. Freeman (Scottish,1822) – Cenotaph to the Memory of the poet Robert Burns, Alloway


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Watercolour over pencil with pen and ink and point of brush on thick paper. Inscribed below the image in black ink; R. Freeman (lower right) and the title; CENOTAPH Now erecting in Ayrshire to the Memory of Robert Burns the Scottish Bard. A further signature on the back, includes the date August 3rd, 1822.

Sheet: 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 in. (31 x 31 cm.)
Image: 7 x 8 3/8 in. (17.6 x 21.3 cm.)
Mount: 13 5/8 x 14 3/8 in. (34.7 x 36.5 cm.)


The artist R. Freeman has not been identified but given the level of detail it would seem likely he had been a student or colleague of Michael Angelo Nicholson (ca.1796-1841). A print of the subject published after Nicholson in 1819 can be viewed on the RIBA website, online.

A competition to design the monument was won by Sir Thomas Hamilton (1784-1858), whose 70 ft high temple of Grecian style is as striking today as it would have been when built. The base of the monument is triangular, with each face looking towards one of the traditional divisions of Ayrshire: Kyle, Carrick and Cunninghame. The roof is supported by nine pillars, representing the nine muses of Greek mythology. There were already gardens on this site when the Burns Monument was built between 1820 and 1823.


Unidentified / Unknown Artist