A Highland Romance: Victorian Views of Scottishness

 Arran (Across Kilbrannan Sound) by Henry Moore

Linlithgow Palace,  J.M.W. Turner

  • Friday 20 September 2013 - Monday 1 September 2014
  • Manchester Art Gallery
  • FREE

Desolate snowscapes. Dramatic stag hunts. Castle ruins. Tartan cloth. Highland cattle.

Are these Victorian stereotypes of Scotland enduring and were they ever a fair representation of the nation?

To coincide with the run-up to the Scottish referendum, we present some of our most popular 19th century paintings and works on paper by Scottish artists. These are on show alongside depictions of Scotland by artists from England, which together will be used to explore how ideas of Scotland and Scottishness have changed over the last two centuries.

Dating from about 1830 to 1904, the works range from classical castle ruins to romanticised portrayals of Highland cattle. Highlights include A Spate in the Highlands by Peter Graham, which returns to display by popular demand, a couple of rarely-seen watercolours by JMW Turner and Portrait of Sir Alexander Keith by Sir David Wilkie.

You can see works by leading Scottish artists such as Joseph Farquharson and John MacWhirter and popular English artists such as Sir John Everett Millais and Sir Edwin Landseer.

Important artworks such as The Chase by Richard Ansdell and Craigmillar Castle by the Reverend John Thomson of Duddingston are on display for the first time since undergoing vital conservation treatment. While the exhibition also gives you the chance to see a rare printed textile based on a Sir David Wilkie painting (and borrowed from the Whitworth Art Gallery) and a beautiful mid-1860s tartan dress from the gallery’s costume collection (held at Platt Hall).

By placing the works in a contemporary context, A Highland Romance explores what it means to have these artworks within Manchester’s collections; how ideas of Scottishness have changed (or not); what it means to be Scottish and what Scotland means to the nation.

A Highland Romance opens on 20 September and runs until September 2014.

A Highland Romance

Download this collection of poems by Jen Hadfield in response to A Highland Romance, commissioned by Manchester Literature Festival


Arran (Across Kilbrannan Sound) by Henry Moore. ©Manchester City Galleries

Linlithgow Palace by J.M.W. Turner. ©Manchester City Galleries

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