William McTaggart

Crossing the Bar [Study for the Painting 'Over the Harbour Bar', 1886] (About 1883 - 1886)

About this artwork

McTaggart often spent the summer months sketching out of doors by the sea. He particularly favoured his native Kintyre on the West Coast of Scotland, and it was there that he made this study in the mid-1880s. On the registration plate of the boat closest to the spectator, the faint letters CN can be made out, indicating that the boat came from Campbeltown. This is the main town at the foot of the Kintyre peninsula and once home to over thirty whisky distilleries. McTaggart's watercolours were painted quickly and show his fascination with capturing movement. In this painting, he used the translucency of watercolour to convey the blurring associated with the rapid motion of the sea.

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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.