Monarch of the Glen: Famous Scottish painting to be sold

£10m price tag expected at Christie’s of London

The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer

The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer

 

One of Scotland’s most famous – and copied – paintings and a masterpiece of Victorian art, The Monarch of the Glen by Sir Edwin Landseer, is to go under the hammer at Christie’s in London next month where it is expected to sell for £10 million. Christie’s described the painting as “one of the most celebrated works of British art and an icon of 19th-century European painting”. The Monarch of the Glen was originally commissioned in 1849 for the Refreshment Room in the House of Lords and depicts “a majestic portrait of a stag posed before a Scottish mountain landscape” believed to be Glen Affric in the Highlands.

The painting – made in 1851 – was originally commissioned for the Refreshment Room in the House of Lords but when the redecoration plans for the building were changed the painting was sold by the artist to the sportsman Lord Londesborough for 350 guineas. In 1916, the painting was bought by Sir Thomas Dewar, of John Dewar & Sons, one of Scotland’s largest whisky companies and throughout the 20th century the image was used as a trademark for Dewar’s and later Glenfiddich whiskies. Dewar’s was taken over by Diageo (the company that also owns Guinness) in 1997. Diageo subsequently sold the Dewar’s brand but kept the painting. The Monarch of the Glen has been on loan for the past 17 years to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, but Diageo has now decided to sell it.

There has been speculation in the British media that the UK government would block the export of the painting if it was bought by an overseas buyer. According to the Antiques Trade Gazette, “it remains unclear whether the National Museum of Scotland will bid on the picture” but “should a future buyer try to export the picture, it would inevitably be blocked from export and likely spark a campaign to ‘save’ it for the nation.”

The auction takes place at Christie’s in London on December 8th.

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