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In 1822 George IV made the first state visit to Scotland since the Act of Union of 1707. The cathedral service shown here took place on Sunday 25 August, with the king under the canopy in the distance. The visit was choreographed with much tartan by the famous novelist Sir Walter Scott to promote both Scotland and British unity, and was witnessed by various artists. Turner was there, in the fruitless hope of securing the king’s patronage for a series of nineteen commemorative paintings, of which only two interiors and two sketchy seascapes survive.

February 2010