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John MacWhirter

The Valley of Slaughter, Skye


John MacWhirter
Slateford, Scotland, 1839 – London 1911


The Valley of Slaughter, Skye




Oil on canvas


88.3 x 134.6 cm


Gift of Lord Strathcona and family, inv. 1927.319


Western Art

In this painting, John MacWhirter illustrates the magnificent force of nature in his native Scotland, where he was primarily known as a watercolourist. The scene depicted here is on the Isle of Skye, in the Hebrides, known for its mountain scenery and its history, associated with the Norse invasion and settlement. In 1896, MacWhirter provided illustrations for an article in The Magazine of Art describing the beauty of Skye’s landscape, where the “play of light and shade at morning and at evening upon these marvellous crags and peaks” is often seen “under driving mist and storm cloud,” giving them “a most impressive appearance.” MacWhirter’s paintings exemplify what the celebrated English critic John Ruskin described as “the contemplative order” of landscape.

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