RICHARD ANSDELL, R.A.
A PASS NEAR GLENCOE, ARGYLESHIRE
signed and dated l.r.: R Ansdell/ 1841
oil on canvas
96.5 by 170cm., 38 by 67in.
The canvas is lined but overall appears sound. There are frame abrasions along the right edge and a protrusion in the upper right corner. Some areas of craquelure, mostly through the foreground of the lower right quadrant and also within the sky.
Ultraviolet light reveals areas of retouching along the upper and right edges; to some of the areas of craquelure within the foreground; and most extensively within the sky.
Held in a gilt plaster frame.
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Purchased from the Malcolm Innes Gallery in 1985 by a private collector
Edinburgh, Malcolm Innes Gallery, Lytham Hall and London, Richard Green Gallery, Richard Ansdell R.A. 1815-1885, A Centenary Exhibition, 1985, no.7
Richard Ansdell exhibited his first picture aged twenty-five in 1840 and A Pass near Glencoe, Argyleshire is therefore an early picture by the artist. However, it is also an ambitious work by a young painter establishing his reputation. In the foreground two drovers stop to converse with a woman who is trudging the same stony Highland path with a cow and calf. Their two hounds regard each other with suspicion but otherwise it is a harmonious scene. The animals and human figures are beautifully studied and the setting of the meandering burn and evening shadows is a tour de force. Ansdell’s painting was probably inspired by the success of Sir Edwin Landseer’s A Scene in the Grampians – The Drover’s Departure of c.1835 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) the largest and most complex of Landseer’s Highland scenes.
The Highland droves had taken place for centuries as animals were moved, sometimes large distances over formidable terrain, from the north to the markets in the southern lowlands. They had to be well-organised by skilled and experienced drovers following long established paths, that ensured that the sheep and cattle could be fed and watered on the journeys. Sir Walter Scott had celebrated the skill of the drovers in his short story ‘Two Drovers’ of 1827 which may also have inspired Ansdell’s painting.