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Entrance to the Cuiraing, Skye

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Entrance to the Cuiraing, Skye 1873


  • Scottish Art
This painting is a spectacular example of Paton’s mature landscape work. It shows the Cuiraing (or Quiraing in modern usage), a remarkable landslip on the Trotternish peninsula of Skye. Paton had visited the area during a tour of Skye in 1866 and made a number of sketches and watercolours. Here, the jagged spike of the thirty-seven meter high pinnacle known as ‘The Needle’ dominates the middle of the composition. The kilted man scrambling up the stony hillside is incidental compared to the vast expanses of rock, water and cloud that surround him. Paton described the Quiraing as ‘an awful place’, despite the fact that it had become a top destination for artists and tourists alike. Paton exhibited this vast picture at the 1873 Royal Scottish Academy exhibition.

Glossary Open


The arrangement of different elements in a work of art.

Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was formed in Edinburgh in 1826 by Scottish artists who felt alienated by what they perceived as the elitism of the Royal Institution and its management of contemporary art exhibitions. In 1835, the RSA secured exhibition rights in the Royal Institution building, which had been erected on The Mound by the Board of Manufactures in 1826. The RSA and the Board frequently argued over responsibilities for advanced art education. From 1859, the RSA shared the premises of the new National Gallery of Scotland under the Board’s custody. In 1910, after transferring most of its art collections to the Gallery, the RSA gained exclusive tenancy of the former Royal Institution building, where it continues to hold large-scale annual exhibitions.


A paint with colouring and binding agents diluted with water. It has a transparent quality and is usually applied to paper.

Composition, Royal Scottish Academy, Watercolour


  • Acc. No. NG 2842
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 111.80 x 162.60 cm (framed: 143.00 x 193.50 x 10.50 cm)
  • Credit Purchased with the aid of the Patrons of the National Galleries of Scotland 2011