About this artwork

This painting shows a ‘rebel’ highlander being arrested by government troops after the Battle of Culloden in 1746. MacDonald’s drawing is dated 1864, and is a preparatory study for a painting which he exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy the same year. MacDonald was working at the height of the Romantic Movement when writers, artists and poets were able to look on Jacobite history from a safe distance. They drew on the stories and anecdotes from the past and explored all their potential for drama and pathos. Here, MacDonald shows the tartan-clad highlander with his wife, who holds the arresting soldier at arms length. Behind them their sleeping baby is in the arms of an elderly woman, who weeps as the hopelessness of their situation is realised.

  • title:
    Study for the Painting 'The Arrest of a Rebel after the Battle of Culloden'
  • accession number:
    D 2756
  • artist:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Pen, brown ink and wash over pencil heightened with white on paper
  • date created:
    Dated 1864
  • measurements:
    14.80 x 19.50 cm
  • credit line:
    William Finlay Watson Bequest 1881

John Blake MacDonald

John Blake MacDonald