Horatio McCulloch - The Lost Years

Horatio McCulloch, Scotland's most famous Victorian landscape artist whose famous paintings Glencoe, Loch Katrine and Loch Lomond are probably the best known. He was born in Glasgow in 1805 and named after the great naval hero of that time.

Horatio McCulloch RSA

'Inverlochy Castle'
Horatio McCulloch RSA

'Smailholm Tower & Sandyknowe Farm'
Horatio McCulloch RSA
McCulloch's early experience came as a teenager working as a scene painter at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow, decorating snuff boxes and colouring prints for Lizars the Edinburgh engravers.

In 1828, McCulloch had his first work exhibited in Glasgow quickly followed by sell out exhibitions in Edinburgh and London in 1829 - 1830. Ironically it was around this time that the Theatre Royal was destoyed by fire.

In 1839, McCulloch who was now a very sought after artist went on tours of England and Wales and at the same time was appointed as a council member of the RSA.

His whereabouts between 1839 and 1843 however remained a mystery and the RSA made an announcement that "Mr McCulloch is engaged on assignments."

Recently Bute Sons and Daughters based at the Rothesay Discovery Discovery Centre while tediously copying the Bute 1841 Census Returns at the local Library for conversion to CD-ROM format made the following remarkable discovery...

'Castle Street, Rothesay--Horacio McCulloch--Landscape Artist-Aged 30' (sic!)

What was McCulloch doing therefore in Rothesay in 1841? It is known That he did indeed visit Bute in 1831 and in fact his painting of St Blane's Church is owned by Bute Museum where it is on display. Another painting by McCulloch entitled 'View of Loch Fad, Isle of Bute, with Arran in the Distance' might also have been painted during this period.

McCulloch died in 1867 in Edinburgh and is buried in Warriston cemetery in Lieth. His widow Marcella (McLellan) from Sleat on the Isle of Skye, after his death emigrated to Australia. They had no children.

Perhaps today some residents in Castle Street Rothesay in removing old wallpaper from their walls may come across another original McCulloch masterpiece!!

Watch this space!!

Ken P Colville
This article is from Ken P Colville. Although not born on the island, he is a resident of Bute and a volunteer Project Researcher with Bute Sons and Daughters.

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