About this artwork

This is by far the largest painting in the collection and admirably represents West's heroic and monumental style. It illustrates a legend in which the first chieftain of the Clan Mackenzie saves the life of the Scottish King. Colin Fitzgerald is shown about to spear a fierce stag who had turned on the Scottish King, Alexander III, during a hunting expedition. West includes other huntsmen, horses and dogs whose dynamic poses and striking gestures enhance the dramatic moment. Francis Humberston Mackenzie became chieftain of the Mackenzie Clan in 1783 and commissioned the painting to commemorate, rather conspicuously, his illustrious ancestor. The painting has recently been conserved in public in the National Gallery.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the Fury of a Stag by the Intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald ('The Death of the Stag')
  • date created:
    1786
  • materials:
    Oil on canvas
  • measurements:
    366.00 x 521.00 cm (framed: 418.00 x 570.00 x 14.20 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Purchased with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund (William Leng Bequest), Ross and Cromarty District Council and Denis F. Ward 1987
  • accession number:
    NG 2448
  • gallery:
  • depicted:
  • subject:
  • photographer:
    Antonia Reeve
Does this text contain inaccurate information or language that you feel we should improve or change? Tell us what you think.

Benjamin West

Benjamin West