Perth’s 2021 City of Culture bid has received a boost with the announcement that one of Scotland’s most iconic paintings will be on show later this year.
Sir Edwin Lanseer’s 1851 masterpiece, The Monarch of the Glen, will visit Perth Museum and Art Gallery for a seven-week period between November 25, 2017 and January 14, 2018.
The Fair City dates are part of a nationwide circuit which also includes City of Culture rival Paisley, plus Inverness and Kirkcudbright. The tour is being funded by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The magnificent 1851 painting of a stag set against a Highland backdrop had been on long-term loan to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh for 20 years before owners Diageo decided to put it up for sale for the first time in 100 years.
However, the 163.80 x 168.90 cm oil on canvas was saved for the nation after the drinks company struck a deal with the National Galleries of Scotland to sell it for less than half its £10 million valuation. It was acquired by the Galleries in March after a global fundraising drive to keep the painting in the country.
Both Perth and Paisley are in the running to be named UK City of Culture in 2021, with a winner due to be announced by the end of this year.
Sir John Leighton, Director-General of the National Galleries of Scotland said: “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. 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 wide audiences across the country.”
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, continued: “This tour will support people of all ages and backgrounds across Scotland to access and enjoy this iconic painting in their own communities, and will hopefully inspire those who see it to seek out further 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.”
Helen Smout, Chief Executive of Culture Perth and Kinross, added: “It’s fantastic news that Perth Museum and Art Gallery is one of the stop-off points on the national tour.
“It underlines Perth ability to host these big name travelling exhibitions and consolidates our credentials as a serious contender for UK City of Culture 2021 status.
“I am sure The Monarch of the Glen will be a big draw for art lovers across Perthshire and beyond.”
Alongside this majestic painting, Perth Museum and Art Gallery will be taking the opportunity to display other works from the permanent collection including the much-loved Loch Katrine by Horatio McCulloch in an exhibition that encapsulates the grandeur and romanticised vision of the Scottish landscape and wildlife of the 19th Century.
The exhibition will be supported by a programme of events and activities that will offer a range of audiences an opportunity to explore and enjoy the artworks, and to engage with debates surrounding issues of history and identity raised this by national icon.