A Highland Romance: Victorian Views of Scottishness at Manchester Art Gallery

By Sarah Jackson | 16 September 2013

Exhibition preview: A Highland Romance: Victorian Views of Scottishness, Manchester Art Gallery, September 20 2013 - September 2014

Henry, Moore, Arran (Across Kilbrannan Sound)
Henry Moore, Arran (Across Kilbrannan Sound)© Manchester City Galleries
Coinciding with the run-up to the Scottish referendum, which is due to take place in September 2014, this new display of significant 19th century paintings and works on paper will explore Victorian notions of Scottish identity.

Although the news is bound to be full of stories regarding the vote, the debate arguably began from the moment of unification with England in 1707. It will be interesting to see what past invocations of Scotland and Scottishness can contribute to modern discussions.

Works on display will include Scottish artists such as Sir David Wilkie, as well as depictions of Scotland from English artists such as JMW Turner.

As the title suggests, many of these art works portray a romanticised view of Highland life: ruined castles, misty mountains and Highland cattle feature heavily.

Politicised visions of Scottishness are revealed in works such as a Portrait of Sir Alexander Keith by Wilkie, which represents the key moment in the adoption of a Highland identity for Scotland.

The exhibition intends to explore what it means to have such artworks in Manchester’s collections, as well as examining how ideas about Scottish identity have changed (or not), what it means to be Scottish and what Scotland is to the United Kingdom as a nation.

Highlights of the exhibition include the return by popular demand of Peter Graham’s A Spate in the Highlands and a couple of rarely-seen Turner watercolours.

The Chase, by Richard Ansdell, and Craigmillar Castle, by the Reverend John Thomson of Duddingston, are returning to display for the first time since undergoing vital conservation treatment.

  • Open 10am-5pm (9pm Thursdays). Admission free. Follow the gallery on Twitter @mcrartgallery.

More pictures:

J.M.W. Turner, Linlithgow Palace
JMW Turner, Linlithgow Palace© Manchester City Galleries

Joseph Farquharson, The Sun Had Closed the Winter Day
Joseph Farquharson, The Sun Had Closed the Winter Day© Manchester City Galleries

Sir John Everett Millais, Autumn Leaves
Sir John Everett Millais, Autumn Leaves© Manchester City Galleries

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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Follow Sarah Jackson on Twitter @SazzyJackson.
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