Moorland and Mist by Peter Graham, R.A., R.S.A. (1838-1921). 1893. Oil on canvas, 122.2 x 183.5 cm. The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum. Accession number: 4-1923. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]
Graham became as well known in England as he was in Scotland, but he continued to spend half the year in Fife, and Scottish subjects continued to be important to him. When he had first turned towards this kind of landscape art, he had "practically lived on the hillside among the cattle," studying "their every attitude" (Gilbert 10). Now, the Highland cattle at his English home in Buckinghamshire were useful models for this quintessentially Highland scene.
Such atmospheric pieces were very popular at the end of the Victorian period. As numbers of these cattle dwindled, there was a particular genre which centred on celebrating them, as a way of preserving a record of the old breed, the old rural tracks, and the old traditional ways. Suggesting that "even living beasts could become museumised," Anne MacLeod actually calls it the "Moorland and Mist" genre. But there was another factor in the popularity of the subject in England: "Perhaps because of the Royal Family's residence in Balmoral there was a steady demand for paintings of Highland cattle," says Lional Lambourne (234). Prints of such paintings could be found in many Victorian drawing-rooms.
Photograph and text by Jacqueline Banerjee, by kind permission of the McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum. You may use the image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the McManus and the photographer, and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. Click on the image to enlarge it.
Gilbert, W. Matthews. The Life and Work of Peter Graham, R.A.. London: The Art Journal office, 1899 [a very limited view is available in Google Books].
Lambourne, Lionel. Victorian Painting. London and New York: Phaidon, 1999.
MacLeod, Anne. From an Antique Land: Visual Representations of the Highlands and Islands, 1700-1880. Edinburgh: Berlinn, 2013 (eBook edition; see Chapter 5).
"Peter Graham (Scottish, 1836-1921)." National Galleries Scotland. Web. 2 November 2016.
Last modified 16 March 2019