About this artwork

Robert Burns's 'Highland Mary' was written in 1792. Thomas Stothard was a celebrated illustrator of novels, poetry and songs and his work was enormously appealing. Here, he shows Burns with his ‘Highland Mary’, or Mary Campbell. She and Burns had a love affair in 1786, and Burns wrote about their love. This watercolour evokes lines from the second verse: "How sweetly bloom’d the gay, green birk,/ How rich the hawthorn’s blossom,/ As underneath their fragrant shade,/ I clasp’d her to my bosom!".

Thomas Stothard

Thomas Stothard