McTaggart's land and seascapes reflect his fascination with nature and man's relationship with it. His bold colours and vigorous brushwork find parallels in Impressionist painting, although essentially form part of a distinct Scottish tradition. They also echo qualities in paintings by Constable and Turner, whom he admired. McTaggart was born on the Mull of Kintyre and returned there frequently from his studio in Glasgow and later from his home in Broomieknow, just outside Edinburgh. He trained in Edinburgh at the Trustees' Academy and enjoyed early success when elected as an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy aged twenty-four.