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McTaggart, William

McTaggart, William (1835–1910). Painter. McTaggart was born in Kintyre (Strathclyde), in a poor labouring family. He studied in Glasgow and Edinburgh, meeting his expenses by painting portraits, and first exhibited in 1856. He became a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and Royal Scottish Academy, but refused to work in London, saying, ‘I would rather be first in my own country than second in any other.’ He decided early on to concentrate on landscapes, undertaking portraits only when he needed money. By the 1870s the sea and boats were the most recurrent themes of his work. Following public reports on the Highland clearances in the 1880s, McTaggart painted a series of works showing emigrants leaving Scotland. In 1897, to celebrate the thirteenth centenary of the death, on Iona, of St Columba, McTaggart painted incidents from the life of the saint. He was elected ARSA in 1859 and RSA in 1870.

June Cochrane

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