A Highland Bothie (1840) by Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73). Source of text and image: “Studies and Sketches by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A.” (1875): 290-91. “Lent by Frederick A. Millbank, Esq., M.P.” [Click on image to enlarge it.] Formatting and text by George P. Landow. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Hathi Trust and the University of Michigan and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document, or cite it in a print one.]

Commentary in the Art-Journal

‘The Highland Bothie’ is a sketch executed in sepia and colours, and was most probably painted on the spot by Landseer when, in some one of his Scottish wanderings, he met with the cottage, and, impressed with its rude picturesqueness, transferred a representation of it to his portfolio. Those who are well acquainted with these somewhat primitive specimens of the domestic architecture of our fellow-countrymen in Scotland and Ireland—they are in reality little better than huts—can testify to the truth of the example here given: the rudeness of their construction is shown by the manner in which the beams and rafters are placed; evidently architects were not invited to send in competitive designs for the building, which has a kind of Robinson Crusoeish look about it: the “supports" and crossbeams appear to be put anyhow and anywhere. The furniture of the bothie—so much at least as one can decipher such hieroplyphical representations—is as rude as the place which holds it: on the right is a cask supporting some planks that serve as a table, for a bottle and glass are just visible upon it; on the opposite side is a large chest; in front of it a woman is nursing a child, and there are indications of another female close by her. In advance of the cask is an odd-looking object. perfectly indefinable; it has the head of a man wearing a Scotch cap over a mass of black hair, and there is the outline of his arm with a long stick in his hand: it might have been intended for anything but a human figure; but as we see it we can only interpret it thus. On one of the cross-beams a couple of fowls have perched themselves. [290-91]


“Studies and Sketches by Sir Edwin Landseer, R.A.” Art-Journal (1875): 289-92. Hathi Trust version of a copy in the University of Michigan Library. Web. 24 March 2014

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Last modified 26 March 2014