About this artwork

This bold watercolour is one of a small group of freely painted open air studies that Runciman made of the rich agricultural land of East Lothian, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. He quickly jotted down the soft yellows and browns of the fields receding towards the Lammermuir Hills in the distance. Runciman first learned to depict landscapes during his apprenticeship with the artist Robert Norie, who painted imaginative and idealised views that were largely used for decoration. Landscape drawing and painting was not part of the traditional academic training in Scotland, and until the early nineteenth century, it was as decorative painters that most Scottish artists learned to depict the landscape and to use colour.

Alexander Runciman

Alexander Runciman

Alexander Runciman was born in Edinburgh and received the first part of his artistic training at the Foulis Academy in Glasgow. He later studied in Italy with his younger brother John, an artist of great promise who died of consumption whilst abroad. Alexander worked largely as a painter of romantic landscapes and historical scenes, and was responsible for several mural paintings in and around Edinburgh. He was an important figure in the education of artists, becoming master of the Trustees' Academy, the forerunner of the Edinburgh School of Art.