Elected: 1984
Discipline: Unspecified at this time
Mr Emilio Coia FRSE
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It has been rightly said by Alan Taylor writing in The Guardian that Emilio Coia personified the Edinburgh ‎Festival. As The Scotsman’s resident caricaturist for nearly fifty years he drew all of the great actors, actresses, ‎musicians, ballet dancers, artists, and personalities who performed in that great feast of culture. Among them ‎‎(whose pictures with many hundred other Coias, adorn the walls of The Scotsman office) were the conductors ‎Solti, Previn, Barenboim, Ozawa, Von Karajan and Guilini; the singers Teresa Berganza and Jessye Norman; ‎Margot Fonteyn, Peter Ustinov and Duncan Macrae. He was a kindly caricaturist and many of his subjects loved ‎him and became close friends. Yehudi Menuhin said of him ‘He is every musician’s favourite caricaturist! I look ‎forward to his drawings as much as anything else in The Scotsman when I visit my beloved Edinburgh’. There was ‎only one artiste who did not appreciate his talents. At the 1984 Festival, as he was sketching the dancer Nureyev in ‎the wings of the Playhouse, he had his pad snatched from him and the drawings (he managed to salvage one) torn ‎out. ‘The rudest man that I have ever met’ was Coia’s judgement. As well as drawing for The Scotsman he did a ‎long series of caricatures for Scottish Field. Faces fascinated him: ‘The face to me is the greatest visual miracle on ‎this planet and a never-ending source of wonder’. He was a compulsive artist. And he drew not only the famous. ‎Anyone sitting opposite him at a dinner party was liable to be the ‘victim’. Many a restaurateur paled in ‎apprehension as he set to on the linen tablecovers and napkins with his pen. Then the apprehension turned to ‎beaming admiration as the portrait emerged. But for many of us the abiding memory of Emilio is not that of seeing ‎him draw but of seeing him dance, an ability that he inherited from his mother. He danced at my wedding and he ‎danced at my son’s wedding. I like to think that he is dancing his way through eternity to immortality. ‎