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Alexander III of Scotland Rescued from the Fury of a Stag by the Intrepidity of Colin Fitzgerald ('The Death of the Stag') 1786


  • Scottish Art
This is by far the largest painting in the collection and admirably represents West's heroic and monumental style. It illustrates a legend in which the first chieftain of the Clan Mackenzie saves the life of the Scottish King. Colin Fitzgerald is shown about to spear a fierce stag who had turned on the Scottish King, Alexander III, during a hunting expedition. West includes other huntsmen, horses and dogs whose dynamic poses and striking gestures enhance the dramatic moment. Francis Humberston Mackenzie became chieftain of the Mackenzie Clan in 1783 and commissioned the painting to commemorate, rather conspicuously, his illustrious ancestor. The painting has recently been conserved in public in the National Gallery.

Glossary Open


When an individual or organisation employs an artist to execute a particular project, the process and the resulting work are termed a ‘commission’.



  • Acc. No. NG 2448
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 366.00 x 521.00 cm (framed: 417.60 x 517.00 x 14.20 cm)
  • Credit Purchased with the aid of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, the Art Fund (William Leng Bequest), Ross and Cromarty District Council and Dennis F. Ward 1987