Moorland and Mist by Peter Graham (1838-1921). Oil on canvas, 122.2 x 183.5 cm. 1893. The McManus: Dundee's Art Gallery and Museum. Accession number: 4-1923. [Click on the image to enlarge it.]

Graham was one of the many talented Scottish artists who trained at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh under Robert Scott Lauder. Although he worked on figure subjects at first, a holiday in Deeside in 1859 inspired him to turn towards landscape painting (See "Peter Graham"). One of the other important influences on him was the poetry of Sir Walter Scott. Having been well received at the Royal Scottish Academy, he also made a name for himself in England, achieving success at the Royal Academy in London, too. In fact, the information label in the gallery tells us that the Highland Cattle here, which look so perfect in this environment, were actually from Graham's English home in Buckinghamshire.

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, the old traditional ways. Suggesting that "even living beasts could become museumised," 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.


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.

Created 2 November 2016