About this artwork

In 1859, while staying in Campbeltown, the artist began work on an untitled picture on the theme of childhood and mortality. His setting was the graveyard of the ruined church of Kilchousland. Two sketches were submitted to the Glaswegian collector Robert Craig who purchased the finished painting and proposed its title. The second sketch was later acquired by Caw, son-in-law of McTaggart, author of a major critical biography of the artist and first Director of the National Galleries of Scotland.

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  • title: The Past and the Present
  • accession number: NG 2139
  • artist: William McTaggartScottish (1835 - 1910)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Children Ruins
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: Painted in or before 1860
  • measurements: 22.30 x 27.40 cm (framed: 35.80 x 42.40 x 4.90 cm)
  • credit line: Bequest of Sir James Lewis Caw 1951

William McTaggart

William McTaggart

McTaggart's land and seascapes reflect his fascination with nature and man's relationship with it. His bold colours and vigorous brushwork find parallels in Impressionist painting, although essentially form part of a distinct Scottish tradition. They also echo qualities in paintings by Constable and Turner, whom he admired. McTaggart was born on the Mull of Kintyre and returned there frequently from his studio in Glasgow and later from his home in Broomieknow, just outside Edinburgh. He trained in Edinburgh at the Trustees' Academy and enjoyed early success when elected as an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy aged twenty-four.