Completed British 20th C, except portraits, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 14 Can we confirm which Scottish castle is depicted here?

Topic: Subject or sitter

This is Craigievar in Aberdeenshire, 6 miles south of Alford, much painted, drawn and etched by artists see in particular D Y Cameron's painting in Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museum It is now owned by the National Trust for Scotland. [Group leader: Kenneth McConkey]

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

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Completed, Outcome

This discussion is now closed. The castle was identified as Murthly Castle, near Dunkeld, Perthshire.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the discussion. To anyone viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all the comments that led to this conclusion.


The Collection has commented: ‘According to our records, the title of this work (Elcho Castle) appears erroneous. We couldn’t find any mention of Craigievar Castle in the files, though Smith did seem to paint Craigmillar regularly. We checked the reverse of the painting and there appears to be an old exhibition label (?) which reads: Michael Davis Hankyu Exhibition PE-9’

I think we should hesitate before jumping to Craigievar. Cameron's vision is exaggeratedly vertical. Modern images of Craigievar show a much larger, more elaborate castle. The roof is quite different and there is no flanking block as seen in the painting. The whole scale is different.

We should be looking for a tower house rather than a castle.

Humphrey Welfare,

This seems to be Murthly Castle, Little Dunkeld, Perthshire. My system is updating and I cannot add the attachments yet, but a Google search on Murthly will reveal a RIBA collections image from 1900 that shows the same view, and that Millais painted it in 1887 under the title ‘Christmas Eve,’ Note the position of the hedge and the wall in front of the building.

Jacinto Regalado,

It is not Craigievar. It clearly differs from all images of it I can find online. This is a rather more modest or less striking building.

Malcolm Fowles,

Unless a Scottish School of architecture turned out identikit castles, Humphrey's images and points of detail are a compelling argument for Murthly. The other candidates mentioned above happen to have turrets - indeed too many turrets - but no other matching detail.

James Brown,

Further evidence for Murthly - an image by the late Nigel Tranter who published five volumes on Scottish tower-houses.

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Malcolm Fowles,

I think the collection can check this in person. From the council offices in Perth, Murthly Castle is 12.3 miles on foot or 13.8 miles by road, half an hour's drive, according to Google Maps.

Humphrey Welfare,

Rather than throwing it to the uncertain judgements of the Twittersphere, perhaps this detail from the photograph of Murthly Castle, taken by R F Mackenzie in 1900 (in the RIBA collection), will assist in comparison with Spence Smith's painting:

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Guillaume Evrard,

The evidence which Humphrey brought in the discussion seems compelling enough to answer the question as Murthly Castle, Little Dunkeld, Perthshire, and update the record accordingly. Or is there any doubt left?