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Exhibition by one of Scotland's best loved artists to be held in the North East of Scotland

28 March 2013

An exhibition of work by William McTaggart, one of Scotland’s best-loved artists, is to go on display for the first time in the north east of Scotland next month.

Duff House in Banff, is hosting an exhibition of over 20 stunning watercolours, compositional studies and oil paintings by McTaggart (1835 – 1910).

McTaggart is regarded as one of the greatest interpreters of the Scottish landscape and the exhibition, which includes scenes of Scottish land and seascapes, is being held as part of a wider programme of events by Historic Scotland, who operates the House, to celebrate The Year of Natural Scotland 2013.

Duff House, General Manager Rachel Kennedy said;

“William McTaggart is regarded as one of Scotland’s most outstanding and innovative artists.  But unlike many of his contemporaries he chose to work almost exclusively in Scotland.

“He was the son of a crofter, born on the west coast of Scotland and his native land was a constant source of inspiration for him. It provided him with a wealth of subject matter and the everyday scenes of fishing communities, breathtaking views of the ocean and sheltered bays along the Scottish coast, feature heavily in his work.

“We very much hope that visitors enjoy finding out more about this great Scottish talent through this special exhibition.”

Highlights of the exhibition, which is on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland, include studies for some of McTaggart’s best known oil paintings such as a delicate pencil study for Spring and an atmospheric study in watercolour for Dawn at Sea. Homewards.

Commenting on the exhibition, Director of the Scottish National Gallery, Michael Clarke, said, ‘McTaggart is one of the most distinctive of all Scottish artists of the nineteenth century and we are delighted to have this opportunity to show his work at Duff House.’

As part of the exhibition there will also be a selection of rarely seen personal memorabilia including the artist’s paint palette, brushes, and Royal Scottish Academy medals.  

Photography from the McTaggart family album will also be on display depicting his true inspiration – his family and surroundings. The exhibition also features rare studies made by McTaggart when he was a young student.

The exhibition runs at Duff House from the 6th April to 30th June and is included as part of the admission price. Duff House is open daily during the summer from 11am to 5pm.

For further information on Duff House and the events programme please visit

Notes for editors:

  • The exhibition was first shown at the Scottish National Gallery in 2010 (11 September – 19 December 2010) to celebrate the centenary of the artist’s death.

  • McTaggart was primarily a painter in oil, rather than a water-colourist. During the 1870s and 1880s, however, he began to work seriously in watercolour, producing not just small sketches, but larger and ambitious compositions which he exhibited at the annual shows of the Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour, in Glasgow. In this work, the transparency of the watercolour medium, and McTaggart's loose brushwork, reveal that the two children were first outlined in charcoal and then painted over the seascape background.

  • William McTaggart was born in Kintyre on the west coast of Scotland, and trained at Trustees’ Academy in Edinburgh, where he won several prizes for drawing. McTaggart was probably one of the most outstanding and innovative painters that Scotland had ever produced. His career spanned over half a century; his early work of the 1860s was influenced by the meticulous style of the Pre-Raphaelites, but gradually his technique loosened and he developed his own unique style which concentrated on capturing the effects of flickering light and movement in the landscape. Unlike most of his contemporaries McTaggart did not move to London and worked almost exclusively in Scotland.

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • 2013 is the Year of Natural Scotland, inspiring our people and our visitors to celebrate Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty, landscapes and biodiversity as Scotland prepares to welcome the world in 2014 and beyond. Find out more about Scotland’s outstanding natural beauty at

Historic Scotland around the web:

                                                       Year of Natural Scotland logo linking to

For further information

Iona Matheson
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8703 or 07827 956 858