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Art in Scotland
Kenneth MacLeay

Born, 1802; died, November 1878.

Macleay was one of those artists whose profession was to a large extent destroyed by the invention of photography, being a miniature-painter in the enjoyment of an extensive practice in Edinburgh. One of his early works which brought him to the front, was a small full-length water-colour portrait of Helen Faucit, dressed in white, and standing beside a table,—a charming work, full of dignity and fine feeling,—which has been reproduced in lithography. Finding his practice as a miniaturist dying away, he turned his attention to portrait-painting in oil as well as watercolour, meeting with considerable success; and also painting numerous Highland landscapes, in which he was not so happy. The figure - subjects which he attempted were few in number, mostly confined to one or two figures, among which may be mentioned Highland Courtship, the Macdonalds of Eigg coming out from their Caves, and a Widow taking her only Son to his long home.

He was one of the very early members of the Scottish Academy, to the exhibitions of which he was a regular and prolific contributor: in the last year of his life he exhibited no fewer than five works, and was represented in the exhibition in the year after his death by seven. He is most popularly known by a series of watercolour drawings of figures illustrating the Highlanders of Scotland, executed for the collection of her Majesty, thirty-one of which have been reproduced by lithography and coloured by the hand. These include portraits in the Highland costume of H.R.H. the late Prince Consort, the Duke of Edinburgh, and illustrations of thirty- five of the principal Highland clans, containing likenesses of some of the retainers of the Royal household at Balmoral, many of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy. He dwelt permanently in Edinburgh, where he died.

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