Macpherson, a poet, writer and Member of Parliament, is most famous for his supposed translations of the poetry of Ossian, a third-century Scottish Highland Bard. Published as Fragments of Ancient Poetry (1760), Fingal (1762) and Temora (1763), these poems were based on the collection of Gaelic ballads that Macpherson made while touring the Highlands. Although they were exposed as fakes in 1805, the poems had already developed a cult status which was fuelled by the rise of national sentiment and the taste for the sublime and the primitive. His work enjoyed a European reputation, finding favour with Schiller, Goethe and Napoleon, and remained popular even after the exposure of its origins.
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National Portrait Gallery, London
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