“The Monarch of the Glen” on tour

One of the most celebrated paintings in the world — the iconic “Monarch of the Glen” by Sir Edwin Landseer —embarked on a groundbreaking tour across Scotland last week following its acquisition for the nation earlier in 2017.

Painted in 1851, Sir Edwin Landseer’s “Monarch of the Glen” famously shows a confident and proud stag against a Highlands landscape. The painting is recognized all over the world as an image closely associated with Scotland. In March 2017, and after a four-month fundraising campaign, the painting made headlines once more when it was acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland (NGS).

“Monarch of the Glen” is again in the news this fall as the painting is now on tour across the nation, traveling to four major venues beginning with the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery, where it will be on display through November 18. Following its run at the Inverness, the painting moves to the Perth Museum and Art Gallery from November 25 through January 14, 2018; then to the Paisley Museum and Art Gallery from January 20 through March 11; and finally on to the Kirkcudbright Galleries March 25 through May 12.

“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,” remarked Sir John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries of Scotland. “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 audiences across the country.”

Sir Edwin Landseer, “The Monarch of the Glen,” circa 1851, oil on canvas, 163.8 x 168.9 cm. National Galleries of Scotland

According to the NGS, “Landseer (1802-73) was intoxicated by the Scottish Highlands. He first visited the country in 1824 and was overwhelmed and inspired by the experience of the landscape and its people; he returned annually in late summer and the autumn on sketching expeditions, developing a particular affinity with the novelist Sir Walter Scott and his work. The resulting paintings range from intimate and remarkably fresh landscape studies, painted on the spot, to his most famous large-scale picture, ‘The Monarch of the Glen.’ They played a key role in formulating the deeply attractive and romantic image of the Highlands, which still resonates today.

“‘The Monarch of the Glen’ was originally intended as part a series of three works to be displayed in the House of Lords, but the scheme was never realized and the painting was sold to a private collector soon after its completion. From the moment it was first exhibited in 1851 at the Royal Academy in London it proved immensely popular, and the admiration has continued right up to the present day. It was widely reproduced in the nineteenth century, especially through steel engravings, and in 1916 it was purchased by Sir Thomas Dewar. From that point it was regularly employed as a marketing image, first by Pears Soap and then by John Dewar & Sons Distillery and Glenfiddich. Subsequently it was also appropriated by Nestlé and Baxter’s Soup. Through its widespread use in commercial advertising and in popular culture, the picture has become instantly recognizable yet it remains an extremely powerful work of art and a rich source of debate about issues of history and identity.”

Fiona Hyslop, cabinet secretary for culture, tourism, and external affairs, added, “This tour is an exciting opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds across Scotland to access and enjoy this iconic painting in their own communities. I am confident this will further inspire many to seek out new opportunities to engage in culture and the arts. I am pleased the Scottish Government was able to support both the acquisition of the painting and its tour with a total of £175,000 funding and I look forward to seeing the ‘Monarch of the Glen’ continue to attract visitors from far and wide in the years to come.”

To learn more, visit the National Galleries of Scotland.

This article was featured in Fine Art Today, a weekly e-newsletter from Fine Art Connoisseur magazine. To start receiving Fine Art Today for free, click here.

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