About this artwork

This lush, idyllic scene shows Penwhapple stream in the woodland near Penkill Castle, Ayrshire. Scott was a close friend of Alice Boyd who lived in the Castle, and whom he visited regularly from 1860 until his death. They would often paint together at the side of the stream. Here, great beams of sun-light stream through the thick forest canopy, illuminating the scene and flooding it with light. Scott's painting is awash with varying green tones. He used light shades for the sun-drenched foliage, and darker ones for the areas thrown into shadow. Although the overall picture is rather sketchy, some areas have been given more detailed attention, such as the glistening wet boulders that are highlighted with white.

William Bell Scott

William Bell Scott

Scott's detailed and highly coloured paintings of historical, religious and contemporary themes reflect the ideas and concerns he shared with his Pre-Raphaelite friends, in particular, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Scott and his brother, David, trained at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh and worked for their father, an engraver, before launching their own careers as painters. Scott's association with the Pre-Raphaelite movement followed his move to London in 1837. He was then appointed Master of the Government School of Design in Newcastle in 1843. Scott painted his famous murals, including 'Iron and Coal', a scene of contemporary industrial life, in Wallington Hall.