Lot 8
  • 8

John Knox

50,000 - 70,000 GBP
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  • John Knox
  • A View of Loch Lomond
  • signed l.l.: JOHN KNOX; titled and signed on a label attached to the stretcher: A VIEW OF LOCH LOMOND/ BY/ JOHN KNOX
  • oil on canvas
  • 63.5 by 165cm., 25 by 65in.


Dr. Karlheinz Langer, Munich, purchased in the 1960s and thence by descent to the present owner


Please note that the following report has been provided by Cooke & Sons, London: The painting is in good condition. It is lined with paste onto a linen canvas. This lining continues to provide good support and in particular to an area where there is a repair to the canvas in the lower left quadrant. The bond between paint, preparation and canvas appears good, and the painting is structurally stable. The paint surface is in good condition, clean with some retouching to the sky centrally located; to the area of the canvas repair in the rocks of the lower left; otherwise to spots thinly dispersed in the foreground and to framing abrasions at the extreme edge of the picture. Any touches present have been done in pure pigment within the varnish layer and may be clearly seen using a normal UV lamp.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

The present lot depicts a spectacular panoramic view looking North-West from Ben Lomond. This vista was a favourite of the artist who painted the scene on a number of occasions. Knox’s paintings have become a visual testament to the renewal of interest in highland landscape that occurred in the early 19th Century as a result of philosophical ideas regarding the Sublime. Knox himself travelled widely in Scotland, and his meticulous attention to detail was demonstrated in a volume of lithographs which he published in 1823, entitled Scottish Scenery drawn upon Stone.

Unfortunately, little is known about John Knox’s life. The Glasgow directories describe him variously as a portrait painter, teacher of drawing and landscape painter. However, Knox’s landscape work is known to have been in demand by 1821, the time of the inaugural exhibition of the Glasgow Institution where Knox showed A View of the Clyde from Dalnottar Hill. Moreover he is thought to have studied with Alexander Nasmyth, described posthumously by Sir David Wilkie as ‘the founder of the Landscape Painting School in Scotland’ (B. Smith and S. Skipwith, A History of Scottish Art: The Fleming Collection,  2003, p30). Knox’s landscapes are notably less influenced by Italian Neo-classicism of the 18th Century than those of Nasmyth, adopting instead an inclination towards the Romantic. Knox lived in Glasgow from 1799 until he moved to London in 1828. He returned to Glasgow in 1836 but lived out the last five years of his life in Keswick.

This panoramic view is taken from the northern slopes of Ben Lomond, whose peak can be seen on the left at 3,192 feet. Beyond can be seen the upper reaches of Loch Lomond and to the right is the western end of Loch Katrine. The two highest peaks behind Loch Katrine are almost certainly the distinctive twin peaks of Stob Binnein and Ben More and the far distant central peak is likely Ben Lui. Whilst at first the painting may appear entirely topographical in its detailing of the rock formations, Knox has also imbued his work with aspects of the Sublime. In the mid-eighteenth century, Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry (1757) prompted a revival of interest in the emotional possibilities of landscape. The heightened viewpoint adopted in the present work increases the Sublime sense, described by Burke, which invoked both fear and attraction. Knox’s landscape is also thrown into impressive perspective by the choice inclusion of figures and animals in the lower-left and lower-right, as well as rising smoke from a mountain bothy in the valley below. A pair of panoramic views depicting the South-West and North-West vistas from Ben Lomond are held in the collection of the Glasgow Art Gallery and a very similar pair of views, previously in the collection of the Duke of Hamilton, were sold in these rooms 9 July 1986.

The present lot should also be considered in concordance with the proliferation of literature on the West of Scotland over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, most notably that of Walter Scott. His Lady of the Lake inspired particular interest in the area of the Trossachs in which Loch Lomond lies, just fourteen miles north of Glasgow. As such, Knox forms an important part of that group of Romantic artists of the 19th Century, both artistic and literary, who seized upon the dramatic features of the natural Scottish landscape. His landscapes adopt characters of their own: their ambitious emotional effects strengthened by a stunning visual accuracy.