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Scottish Artists Abroad

For centuries, Scots had travelled and settled abroad in large numbers as traders, soldiers, academics and intellectuals. During the nineteenth century, Scottish artists were at the forefront of European and Eastern travel. A number of them, including David Roberts and John Phillip, followed Sir David Wilkie’s footsteps to Spain, where they were inspired by the local culture, landscape and architecture. John Phillip’s vibrant and colourful scenes particularly delighted Queen Victoria. David Roberts also travelled further afield to the Middle East, and was the first artist to familiarise British audiences with scenes of Egypt, the Holy Land, Syria and Palestine.

A View in Cairo by David Roberts©

The work produced by Scottish adventurer-artists appealed to an audience whose hunger for exotic scenes from abroad was unprecedented. The willingness of Scottish artists to exploit what Wilkie called ‘the wild, unpoached game-reserve of Europe’, and territories beyond, left a legacy of vivid, evocative paintings which astonished and delighted their contemporaries.

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