About this artwork

This still and tranquil scene shows the sixteenth-century Nungate Bridge in the village of Haddington, East Lothian. The bridge was one of the few places that travellers to and from Edinburgh could cross the River Tyne. McKay painted the bridge and village bathed in hazy sunlight. The slow-ebbing river and the figures leisurely strolling along the banks give the scene a languid stillness. This stillness, and the lack of any traces of modern life, lends the scene a timeless impression. Indeed, McKay chose to emphasise the old and enduring aspects of Haddington life: the river, the bridge and the old buildings.

  • title: The Nungate Bridge, Haddington
  • accession number: NG 2463
  • artist: William Darling McKayScottish (1844 - 1924)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Bridges Rivers
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1901
  • measurements: 78.40 x 110.30 cm (framed: 112.00 x 143.60 x 12.50 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1988
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

William Darling McKay

William Darling McKay

William Darling McKay was born in Gifford, East Lothian in 1844. He studied art in Edinburgh before travelling to Holland, where he was greatly influenced by the painters of The Hague School. Like the French Barbizon painters, The Hague painters preferred to work out of doors, concentrating on the effects of light and atmosphere on the landscape. On his return to Scotland, McKay sought out rural subjects in his native East Lothian, and his paintings have become synonymous with that area. His pastoral landscapes filled with incidents of rural life show the influence of Jean François Millet (1814-1875), particularly in McKay's images of men and women working the land.