Loughborough University
Thesis-1988-Pringle.pdf (22.14 MB)

Prophet of the Highlands : Sir Edwin Landseer and the Scottish Highland image

Download (22.14 MB)
posted on 2014-04-02, 10:38 authored by Trevor R. Pringle
This thesis thematically examines Sir Edwin Landseer's 0802-73> visual images of the Scottish Highlands. From consideration of Landseer's art and its social context it is argued that it is possible to gain an understanding of changing conceptions of both landscape and nature and the symbolic role of Highland Scotland in British middle class consciousness over the period 1820-1870. The text is contained in Volume One and all illustrative plates are contained in Volume Two. In Chapter One recent reformulations of the concept of culture are examined, some approaches to cultural theory reviewed and a cultural materialist framework adopted. The changing nature of Scottish rural imagery over the period 1750 - 1870 is examined in Chapter Two. Chapter Three provides both a brief biographical sketch of Edwin Landseer and a commentary on the nature of the Victorian art market. The re-presentation of the Scottish rural poor in landscape art is examined in Chapter Four. In Chapter Five particular attention is given to the ideological nature of Landseeer’s royal commissions while the changing symbolic role of animals in nineteenth century thought is examined in Chapter Six. Chapter Seven examines Landseer's "Flood in the Highlands" (1845-1860) and argues that this work encapsulates a historical study of human responses to a specific hostile environment. It is further argued that this work represents an essentially Christian analogical view of the relationship between man and the natural world. In conclusion Chapter Eight re-examines the symbolic role of the Highland Image in popular consciousness over the period 1820 - 1870. It is argued that Landseer's Highland works reflect and articulate two central traits in early and mid Victorian thought - the value of the rural and the pull of the past. In a brief postscript it is suggested that the immense popularity of Landseer's Highland image helped prepare Victorian society for a subsequent historicist reaction which illustrated the power of the past in shaping the regional development of the Highlands.


Economic and Social Research Council.



  • Social Sciences


  • Geography and Environment


© Trevor Robert Pringle

Publication date



A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

EThOS Persistent ID



  • en

Usage metrics

    Geography and Environment Theses


    Ref. manager