About this artwork

Angus MacKay was a distinguished composer and performer on the bagpipes. His father was also a piper and Angus learnt to play at an early age, winning the bagpipes in this painting at an Edinburgh piping competition in 1835. With the backing of the Highland Society of London, MacKay published his Collection of Ancient Piobaireachd or Highland Pipe Music in 1838. The tunes were set in modern ‘scientific’ staff notation and the volume became a standard work. In 1843 MacKay secured the position of household piper to Queen Victoria, but left his position in 1854 due to mental ill-health. He was admitted to Crichton Royal Institution, Dumfries, and in 1859 was reported to have drowned in the River Nith.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Angus MacKay, 1813 - 1859. Piper to Queen Victoria, 1843 - 1854
  • date created:
    Dated 1840
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    90.20 x 70.50 cm (framed: 105.60 x 85.60 x 7.80 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased 1985
  • accession number:
    PG 2675
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • subject:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
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Alexander Johnston

Alexander Johnston