A woman is sketching under the shade of a tree, which dominates the foreground of this work. Her subject is the Gothic building before her. Woodlands House, in the west end of Glasgow, was built in the early 19th century by James M'Nayr, editor of the ‘Glasgow Herald’. It later became the property of cotton merchant George Buchanan. George was one of seven brothers, at least five of whom were cotton traders. It has been suggested that he is the same person as G. F. Buchanan, the artist of this work, and that his brother James is landscape and genre painter J. A. Buchanan. The three daughters of George: Margaret, Jane and Elizabeth, known as the Misses Buchanan, lived at Bellfield House, Kilmarnock, where this painting was formerly in display.
In 1893, the ‘Glasgow Herald’ reported:
‘Woodlands House[was] built towards the end of the last or the beginning of the present century... In olden times the lands were well covered with copse wood, principally oak, remains of which are still to be seen…’
This work was included in an ‘Exhibition Illustrative of Old Glasgow’, held at Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts in 1894, when it was lent by the Bellfield Trustees, Kilmarnock.
Landscapist George Frederick Buchanan was based in Edinburgh when he first exhibited at the Scottish Academy in 1841. He had moved to Glasgow by 1842 and to London in 1848, although his subjects remained mostly Scottish landscapes. He then exhibited at the Royal Academy, British Institution and Society of British Artists in London, and at the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, and the Glasgow Institute. He moved regularly to different addresses, living in Mayfair, the City and Belsize Park, to escape creditors. In 1854 he appeared at the ‘Court of Relief of Insolvent Debtors’ in Lincoln’s Inn and in 1861 was imprisoned at the ‘Debtor’s Prison for London and Middlesex’, when his estate and effects were seized. He exhibited nothing after 1865.
Sold through Bonhams, London, 'Important English and Continental Paintings' sale, on 27 June 1974 (Lot 63), as 'A View of Woodlands House, Glasgow, with an Artist Sketching in the Foreground', for £380; with Appleby's; from whom purchased by the Department of the Environment in November 1974
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