12. Machrie / Macharaidh
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Machrie is a small village in the south west of Arran whose origins stretch far back to the neolithic period.
The standing stones of Machrie Moor are undoubtedly one of the most iconic sites on the island. Part of a vast complex of stone circles, eleven of which have been uncovered, the site also includes cists, hut circles and burial cairns.
Artists have long been drawn to the stones, an association which dates back to the Romantic work of painters such as William Andrews Nesfield (1793 - 1881). Nesfield depicted the most well known group of stones, the tallest of which reaches almost 5 metres in height, in striking form. It is a work which shows the the trio illuminated by dramatic light with the dark form of the mountains in the distance. The same mystical qualities are apparent in the work of George Hering, whose 'Druidical monuments at dawn in the Isle of Arran' of 1871 shows the stones bathed in moonlight as a mist rolls across the moor.
More recently, Charlotte Prodger's 2016 Turner Prize winning work BRIDGIT featured the stones as part of her work which explored identity, place and time.
William McTaggart (25 October 1835 – 2 April 1910) was a Scottish landscape and marine painter who was influenced by Impressionism.
The son of a crofter, William McTaggart was born in the small village of Aros, near Campbeltown, in Kintyre a western peninsula of Scotland.
He moved to Edinburgh at the age of 16 and studied at the Trustees' Academy under Robert Scott Lauder. He won several prizes as a student and exhibited his work in the Royal Scottish Academy, becoming a full member of the Academy in 1870. His early works were mainly figure paintings, often of children, but he later turned to land and marine art specifically seascape painting, inspired by his childhood love of the sea and the rugged, Atlantic-lashed west coast of his birth.
The grave of McTaggart and his wife, alongside his daughter, Newington Cemetery
McTaggart was fascinated with nature and man’s relationship with it, and he strove to capture aspects such as the transient effects of light on water. He adopted the Impressionist practice of painting out of doors, and his use of colour and bold brushwork resemble qualities found in paintings by Constable and Turner, both artists whom he admired.
McTaggart was skilled in the use of both oil and watercolour and, in addition to Kintyre seascapes, he also painted landscapes and seascapes in Midlothian and East Lothian. Many of his later works depict the Moorfoot Hills which could be seen from his house near Lasswade, which he moved to in 1889.
He is regarded as one of the great interpreters of the Scottish landscape and is often labelled the "Scottish Impressionist".
He married Marjory Henderson (1856-1936), the daughter of another painter, Joseph Henderson (artist) RSW (1832–1908), Joseph's sons John Henderson (1860–1924) and Joseph Morris Henderson (1863–1936) also being painters. McTaggart painted a striking portrait of his father-in-law, Joseph Henderson, which hangs in the Glasgow Museum.
One of his pupils was the Scottish marine painter James Campbell Noble. He is buried in Newington Cemetery in Edinburgh just south of the main roundel on a corner between paths.