“On The Road To Glen Quoich”
Rt Hon Archibald Campbell, Lord Blythswood, F.R.S. (1835–1908)
Watercolour on paper
42 cm x 55 cm (image)
63.2 cm x 78 cm (framed)
A substantial Late 19th/Early 20th Century watercolour landscape painting depicting a scene overlooking Loch Quoich from the road to Glen Quoich (also Glenquoich) in Lochaber, within the Scottish Highlands. Loch Quoich is six miles long and three-quarters of a mile wide and is surrounded by four impressive Munros (Gleouraich, Spidean Mialach, Sgurr a'Mhaoraich and Gairich). The artist Sir Edwin Landseer stayed in this vicinity on various occasions and it is said to have been from here that he took the inspiration for his masterpiece "The Monarch of the Glen". Glen Quoich is now largely submerged under water, having been flooded as part of a hydro-electric power scheme in 1955.
The picture was painted by Rt Hon Archibald Campbell Campbell, Lord Blythswood, F.R.S. (1835–1908). Lord Blythswood (first known as Archibald Campbell Douglas) was an exceptionally wealthy individual, much of Glasgow having been built on his land, but he was also an highly accomplished Victorian with wide-ranging interests: a soldier, a politician, a scholar and a scientist.
Archibald Campbell Douglas (he dropped the Douglas from his name in 1838) was born in Florence, Italy in 1835. He was the son of Archibald Campbell, 17th Laird of Mains, and privately educated for a career in the army. At the age of 18 he enlisted with the 79th Highlanders before transferring to the Scots Fusilier Guards. He reached the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel and fought in the Crimean War, during which he was badly wounded at Sebastopol in 1855.
On the death of his father, he left the army to head the family's estates (though he was Colonel of the 4th Battalion the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (1874-1894), 3rd Volunteer Battalion Blythswood Rifles and an Aide-de-Camp to both Queen Victoria and Edward VII). He became M.P. for Renfrewshire in 1873 and served in the Commons until 1892. Grand Master of the Freemasons [Scotland] between 1885 and 1892, he was knighted in 1880 and elevated to the peerage as Lord Blythswood on his retirement from the Commons.
He built a remarkable private laboratory in his home Blythswood House (demolished 1935), on the outskirts of Glasgow, where he pursued his interests in science and engineering. A friend of Lord Kelvin (who was Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Glasgow), Blythswood pursued his own experiments and was a pioneer in researching what became known as X-Rays, indeed his studies in this field almost led to his preempting Röntgen's discoveries.
He was a leading light in the celebrated Glasgow Exhibitions of 1888 and 1901. Various ethnographic and archeological artefacts which he collected are now in possession of the British Museum, including the "Campbell Papyrus" which he had bought at Luxor in 1874. Amongst his guests at Blythswood House were Queen Victoria, the Duke of Albany, the Prince and Princess of Wales (later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) and the Tsarina of Russia.
The watercolour here suggest that, amongst his many other accomplishments, Lord Blythswood was also an extremely talented artist. It is not known from whom he received his training; he was a patron of the painter and sculptor William Grant Stevenson (1849-1919), who produced a portrait bust of him. He also sat for a portrait by Sir Hubert von Herkomer which was exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1887. He owned the painting "The Vanguard" (1878) by John MacWhirter, R.A. (1839-1911) which was used as the basis of the image "Cattle in a Storm" for the United States Post Office US$1 stamp of 1898. It is, perhaps, to MacWhirter's tight, Pre-Raphaelite style that this work here shows the greatest affinity.
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