Study for the Painting 'The Battle of Drumclog'
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Study for the Painting 'The Battle of Drumclog' about 1836
  • Scottish Art
This study was for the painting 'The Battle of Drumclog', which Harvey exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1836. It shows the battle that took place in 1676 between the Covenanters and the Royalist army led by John Graham of Claverhouse (who eventually became Viscount Claverhouse of Dundee). The battle of Drumclog was the only occasion on which the Covenanters defeated the Royalist forces. Harvey had a genuine sympathy for the Covenanters. Unfortunately his composition is not wholly successful, as the numerous intertwined figures become confusing, making it difficult for the viewer to understand the action.

Glossary Open

Composition

The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Covenanters

People who sought to uphold the Presbyterian faith in Scotland in the 17th century. They adhered to a series of covenants, notably the National Covenant of 1638 which was signed in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh in opposition to Charles I’s attempts to introduce an English-style prayer book. The Covenanters’ opposition to bishops and royal control over the church brought them into conflict with the government and hundreds of Covenanters were executed.

Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was formed in Edinburgh in 1826 by Scottish artists who felt alienated by what they perceived as the elitism of the Royal Institution and its management of contemporary art exhibitions. In 1835, the RSA secured exhibition rights in the Royal Institution building, which had been erected on The Mound by the Board of Manufactures in 1826. The RSA and the Board frequently argued over responsibilities for advanced art education. From 1859, the RSA shared the premises of the new National Gallery of Scotland under the Board’s custody. In 1910, after transferring most of its art collections to the Gallery, the RSA gained exclusive tenancy of the former Royal Institution building, where it continues to hold large-scale annual exhibitions.

Composition, Covenanters, Royal Scottish Academy

Details

  • Acc. No. D 3477
  • Medium Pen and wash over pencil heightened with white on paper
  • Size 15.90 x 21.60 cm
  • Credit William Findlay Watson Bequest 1881