Harris, Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides, Scotland
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A watercolour portrait of Donald Stewart (1827-1909) and Charles Duncan (1826-1904), retainers of Queen Victoria, in the valley of the Dee.
After painting Queen Victoria's three younger sons in the early 1860s, Kenneth MacLeay, a miniature and watercolour portrait painter, was commissioned to produce further portraits of the Queen's favourite retainers. From this developed a more significant commission, and indeed the most important of the artist's career: a series of portraits of representatives of the more important Highland clans, with a view to publication. This group of portraits of retainers and clansmen was executed during the second half of the 1860s and exhibited by John Mitchell, Old Bond Street, in 1869. They were then reproduced in chromolithograph by Vincent Brooks (London's premier lithographer) as illustrations to the two-volume 'The Highlanders of Scotland' (1870; this watercolour Plate V).
Donald Stewart, who wears a kilt of Balmoral tartan and holds a gun and bonnet, worked for Prince Albert from 1848 as under-forester and became Head Keeper at Balmoral in 1875. Charles Duncan, wearing a kilt and plaid of Royal Stewart tartan, was a ghillie from 1849 and later Keeper at Balmoral. He also served as Forester to the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) at Birkhall from 1868.
Descriptive Medium: 'Pencil and watercolour', 'pencil', 'watercolour painting'