Alexander Runciman, Lochleven Castle on an Islet, a chalk drawing

Scotland, AD 1778

Alexander Runciman (1736-85) and his brother John (1744-68), also an artist, were born in Edinburgh. Alexander was apprenticed to a coach painter and later, in Glasgow, studied landscape painting. Like many of their fellow Scots, both the brothers travelled to Italy in 1767 to study. They concentrated on painting scenes from classical and biblical history, but John was unhappy with the results, destroying much of his work before his early death in Naples. Today Alexander is best known for the monumental panels illustrating the poems of Ossian he created for Sir John Clerk at Penicuik House (destroyed 1899). Yet an interest in landscape remained with him throughout his life. In the few paintings and many drawings by him that survive displayed a romantic fascination with classical ruins and desolation.

This red chalk drawing of a Scottish castle is signed and dated 1778 at the lower right. Typically, Runciman has modelled the foreground with darker and stronger colouring for the framing trees while in the castle on an island in the background, together with its reflection in the lake, he uses the white of the paper to lighten the atmosphere and tone.

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D. Macmillan, Painting in Scotland: the gold (London, Tate Gallery, 1986)


Height: 167.000 mm
Width: 242.000 mm

Museum number

PD 1991-5-11-1



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