Scottish art treasures to go on display in China

Hugh Morrison examines an 18th century shield used by Highland clansmen.
Hugh Morrison examines an 18th century shield used by Highland clansmen.
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Dozens of historic Scottish paintings, photographs and historic treasures have been sent more than 5,000 miles away to go on display in the heart of one of China’s leading cultural attractions.

Images of Edinburgh Castle, Jedburgh Abbey, Linlithgow Palace, Loch Katrine, Ben Nevis and Glencoe will all be part of a major celebration of “Romantic Scotland” at Nanjing Museum.

Due to be staged for three months, the exhibition of nearly 100 objects will be drawn from the collections of heritage agency Historic Environment Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland.

It is hoped the landmark exhibition, which will feature work “exemplifying the strength and richness of Scottish culture”, will bolster cultural links between the two countries.

Visitors to the museum, which has some 400,000 objects in its own collections, will be urged to share photographs and video taken during the exhibition on social media, as well as post thoughts on a giant graffiti wall and even send postcards back to Scotland.

Star attractions are expected to include an 18th century shield from Abroath Abbey, a 17th century helmet from Dumbarton Castle, a peat cutter from a blackhouse on the Isle of Lewis, and a model of Skerryvore, Scotland’s tallest lighthouse, off the coast of the Isle of Tiree.

Dating from the late 18th to the early 20th century centuries, the show will feature images of attractions like the Falls of Bruar waterfall in Perthshire, Sir Walter Scott’s historic Borders home, Abbotsford, and Balmoral Castle, the Scottish home of the Royal Family since 1852.

The exhibition, which will explore the impact of the “Romanticism” movement in Scotland on art and national identity, willalso feature work by the artists William McTaggart, Alexander Nasmyth, Sir John Lavery and Horatio McCulloch, and the photographers George Washington Wilson and Erksine Beveridge.

It is hoped the exhibition, which will feature 30 paintings on loan from the National Galleries of Scotland, will have a long-term tourism spin-off for Scotland and boost the value of the heritage sector from its current level of £2.3 billion.

Rebecca Bailey, head of education and outreach at Histoic Environment Scotland, said: “The exhibition showcases spectacular romantic interpretations of Scotland’s changing landscape, from storm-lashed coastlines and majestic castles to jagged mountain peaks and haunting rural landscapes.

“These images of Scotland are still influential around the world today, and we’re interested to hear from visitors about their views of modern Scotland.”

Patricia Allerston, deputy director at the National Galleries, said: “Chinese visitors are one of our fastest growing audiences, so we‘re delighted to have this opportunity to present 31 of our top historic Scottish paintings, alongside the collections of Historic Environment Scotland.”