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In the Orchard

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In the Orchard 1886

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Guthrie worked on this large-scale painting between 1885 and 1886. For part of that time he was staying at Cockburnspath, a small village near the Berwickshire coast, but he also worked on it in Glasgow and Kirkcudbright. The painting’s size was unusual for the time given the everyday subject matter. Large canvases were normally reserved for epic historical or religious themes. It shows a young boy and girl collecting windfall apples in an orchard as sunlight shimmers through the trees. Guthrie struggled with the challenges posed by working on such a scale; it forced him to use broad brushwork to achieve the naturalistic representation that he was seeking. The sketchbook that Guthrie used while staying at Cockburnspath is in the Scottish National Gallery’s Print Room, and it reveals his experiments with the composition of this picture (D 4052).

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

History painting

Paintings in which the subject is taken from biblical, classical or other mythological histories.

Composition, History painting


  • Acc. No. NG 2866
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 152.00 x 178.00 cm (framed: 165.80 x 196.80 x 7.50 cm)
  • Credit Purchased jointly by the National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Life with assistance from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund 2012