Golden Boy statue to get makeover

Mark Nevin of Nevin of Edinburgh takes samples of the existing paint and earlier gilding in preparation for the re-gilding of the Golden Boy that will take place soon. Picture: Neil  Hanna
Mark Nevin of Nevin of Edinburgh takes samples of the existing paint and earlier gilding in preparation for the re-gilding of the Golden Boy that will take place soon. Picture: Neil Hanna
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ONE of the Capital’s most prominent landmarks – a sculpture that has towered over the city for more than a century – is set to light up the skyline with a dazzling makeover.

The famous Golden Boy statue atop the dome of the Old College at Edinburgh University is being given a new lease of life with the 126-year-old monument earning a new coat of 23 carat gold leaf.

Harsh batterings from the Scottish weather has tarnished one of the university’s most prized possessions and will see regilding work take place for the first time in 30 years.

When it is completed the six-foot statue will shine like a beacon 200 feet above the streets of South Bridge.

Gilder Mark Nevin said the statue would be transformed in the revamp and become one of the most eye-catching sights in the Capital.

He said: “From head to toe it will be solid gold block.

“The detail is still there because it has not been painted or gilded a lot so the detail is still on the statue itself.

“From the ground, when the sun hits it, it will be blinding.

Installed in 1888, the bronze figure is believed to have been modelled on notorious 
Capital athlete and boxer Anthony Hall, who was the talk of the chattering classes throughout the last 19th century.

In later life, Hall was an 
artists’ model and also modelled for the Burns statue in Leith.

Neil Lebeter, art collections curator at The University of Edinburgh, said Hall had been a figure of note in the city throughout the Victorian era for his sporting prowess and penchant for socialising.

He said: “Even in his athletic days, it was reported that at many of the Highland Games Hall would compete at, that he would enjoyed the social amenities as much as the actual competing.

“Many of the people in Edinburgh would have known Anthony Hall because he was such a popular and notorious character in the city.

Work on the Old College at Edinburgh University was begun by Robert Adam in 1789 and continued by WH Playfair after his death.

The final architect, Robert Rowand Anderson, completed the dome and John Hutchison, RSA, sculpted the Golden Boy.

The Old College is one of the most distinguished buildings in the Old Town.

It once accommodated the faculties of law, medicine, arts and science. It now houses only the law school.

A spokesman said of the Golden Boy statue: “It is a shining symbol of learning that has been the crowning glory of an iconic Scottish building for more than a century.

“Re-gilding work is about to begin that will restore the 
lustre that has been lost as the elements have taken their toll.

“It will be the first time in almost 30 years that the statue, which gazes out across the city holding the torch of knowledge, has been re-coated with gold leaf.”