The Victorian gallery at The McManus in Dundee, with its original curved red walls, vaulted glass ceiling, and ornamental plasterwork is impressive even before you start to absorb individual paintings. I was there in May, after being to the V&A Dundee (see photos).
Two paintings featuring Highland cows caught my attention. This one, A Highland Parting, was painted in 1885 by Gourlay Steell. Having looked him up, I now know he was a Royal Scottish academician, appointed in 1872 as the official painter of animals to Queen Victoria, succeeding Edwin Landseer (of Monarch of the Glen fame).
This gives you an idea of the size of the painting. (I can’t recall what had caught my Ma’s attention to the left.) I like the rich colour, the brushwork creating the windsweptness of the cow’s hair, that there’s the full cow colour range, the contrast between meticulous and suggested, plus those sheep.
The other was Moorland and Mist by Peter Graham. The appeal wasn’t so much the photographic realism of the cows as the background lost in the mist. How so much of the composition has a tantalising feeling of the mist about to shift any minute and let you see more. Contrasting with the detailed foreground and cows, giving the viewer’s eye a respite from all the detail.