Earlier this year, The National Galleries of Scotland acquired one of the most famous paintings of the nineteenth century, The Monarch of the Glen for the nation. The acquisition was made possible thanks to a range of donations from the public, trusts, foundations and a part gift by previous owners, Diageo Scotland Ltd. The painting, by Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73) will live in the heart of Edinburgh at the Scottish National Gallery. The Bridgeman archive contains the image of The Monarch of the Glen available for licensing.
Painted in 1851, the Monarch of the Glen encapsulates the grandeur and majesty of Scotland’s Highlands and wildlife. It has become emblematic of Scotland and the natural wonders the country embodies.
Large in size, the painting depicts a royal stag in fine detail surveying the rugged landscape; gorse and bracken are in the foreground whilst dramatic cliff faces and escarpments form the backdrop. The composition is unified by swirling mist which rises up from the glen and merges with the billowing clouds that mask the mountain tops.
Initially, the painting was conceived as part of a series of three works to be displayed in the House of Lords. However, the painting was considered inappropriate for this setting and so it was sold to a private collector and then exhibited at the Royal Academy where it was particularly popular. The Royal Academy catalogue gave the painting greater context as it sat alongside a poem called Legends of Glenorchy. Throughout the nineteenth century, the painting was widely reproduced, especially through steel engravings. It has regularly been used in marketing campaigns by a range of companies such as Pears Soap, John Dewar & Sons Distillery, Glenfiddich, Nestlé and Baxter’s Soup.
Sir Edwin Landseer (1802–73) was considered one of the most highly regarded Victorian painters, particularly for his depiction of animals. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools. He first visited Scotland in 1824 and was inspired by the landscape and people. Landseer then returned annually between late summer and autumn on sketching exhibitions where he developed an affinity with Sir Walter Scott and his work. The artist produced a range of works whilst inspired by Scotland which helped to romanticise the Highlands. Landseer loved the beauty of the landscape, the sense of space and the spectacle of animals in the wild – especially deer. He became an Academician in 1831. His meticulous drawings and bravura oil sketches demonstrate his technical skill which informed his larger, highly finished paintings. The Monarch of the Glen at the height of his artistic fame.
Landseer worked extensively for Queen Victoria; a number of his works remain in the Royal Collection.
Before residing at the Scottish National Gallery, the painting will go on display in four venues across Scotland this year.
Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland said:
“Thanks to the generosity of The National Lottery and the Scottish Government we are able to take this fantastic picture across the country to be enjoyed by as many people as possible. We want this tour of The Monarch of the Glen to be seen as a huge thank you for the overwhelming support that we received during the fundraising campaign and as a celebration that this amazing work of art now belongs to all the people of Scotland. We hope that it will be admired and debated by wide audiences across the country. ”
From October 2017, The Monarch of the Glen will tour at the following venues:
Inverness Museum & Art Gallery
6 October – 19 November 2017
Perth Museum and Art Gallery
25 November 2017 – 14 January 2018
Paisley Museum and Art Gallery
20 January – 11 March 2018
25 March – 12 May 2018