Painting the Nation
This pioneering account of painting in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Scotland is a compelling history of the most vibrant period in the nation’s art history. It also casts a new and revealing light on the nature and evolution of Scottish identity. In Painting the Nation, art and history are brought together in ways that reveal as much about the paintings as they do about the wider issues of the time. Painting mirrored the tensions between Scotland’s idea of itself as a discrete entity and its position within the United Kingdom. John Morrison reveals political meanings not only in depictions of great moments in history but in a whole range of imagery, from scenes of everyday life to romantic landscapes of crags and lochs. We also see how artists could in the same painting simultaneously display their pride in the British nation and celebrate Scotland's difference. In John Morrison’s exposition, icons such as Robert Bruce and Glencoe and the runic carvings of the Picts take on new meaning as symbols of a nationalism bound to unionism. In addition to the work of artists such as Sir David Wilkie, Horatio McCulloch, Sir George Harvey, George Paul Chalmers and Sir James Guthrie, less well-known paintings such as G. P. Chalmers’ End of Harvest and W. D. McKay’s Winter Morning are explored. In doing so the reader is guided through an intriguing period in Scottish history and the great art it inspired.