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Art Diary

Painting as Spectacle

14 August 2020

While some museums remain shuttered due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Apollo’s usual weekly pick of exhibitions will include shows at institutions that are now reopening as well as digital projects providing virtual access to art and culture.

After five months, the Scottish National Gallery is reopening to the public on 17 August, providing another opportunity to explore this permanent display of ‘statement pictures’: imposing, theatrical works, frequently depicting landscapes or scenes from ancient and modern history, designed to draw big crowds and reinforce official narratives about the past and present. Chief among them is Landseer’s Monarch of the Glen – but the display also includes David Wilkie’s colossal depiction of the Scottish general David Baird discovering the body of Tipu Sultan after the battle of Seringapatam in 1799, Frederic Edwin Church’s vision of the majesty of Niagara Falls, and Benjamin West’s five-metre-long canvas illustrating a medieval Scots legend, in which the first chieftain of the Mackenzie clan rescues Alexander III from a stag. Find out more from the National Galleries Scotland website.

Preview below | View Apollo’s Art Diary here

Niagara Falls, from the American Side (1867), Frederic Edwin Church.

Niagara Falls, from the American Side (1867), Frederic Edwin Church. National Galleries of Scotland

General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tippoo Sahib after having Captured Seringapatam, on the 4th May, 1799 (1839), David Wilkie.

General Sir David Baird Discovering the Body of Sultan Tippoo Sahib after having Captured Seringapatam, on the 4th May, 1799 (1839), David Wilkie. National Galleries of Scotland

Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the Fury of a Stag by the Intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald ('The Death of the Stag')

Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the Fury of a Stag by the Intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald (‘The Death of the Stag’) (1786), Benjamin West. National Galleries of Scotland

The Monarch of the Glen (1851), Edwin Landseer.

The Monarch of the Glen (c. 1851), Edwin Landseer. National Galleries of Scotland

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