Museum hits back at shock claims Monarch of the Glen deer is actually English

Sir Edwin Landseer's The Monarch Of The Glen. Picture: National Museum of Scotland
Sir Edwin Landseer's The Monarch Of The Glen. Picture: National Museum of Scotland
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The owner of the iconic Monarch of the Glen painting has denied a claim it was based on a stag in the grounds of an English hotel.

The 1851 work by Sir Edwin Landseer features the image of a red deer stag in what is thought to be a misty Highland landscape and has been closely associated with Scotland and products sold around the world.

But Stoke Park hotel in Buckinghamshire, previously a country house, believe the painting was based on a stag within its grounds during Sir Edwin’s regular visits to the estate in the 19th century.

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A section on the history of the estate on its website states: “Sir Edwin often visited Stoke Park during Lord Taunton’s (Henry Labouchere) and later Edward Coleman’s ownership and it was at this time that part of the ground floor of the house was beautifully furnished as a studio.

“Sir Edwin painted many pictures of the herd of deer in the park including the famous ‘Monarch of the Glen’ and ‘Running Deer’.”

The National Galleries of Scotland (NGS), who secured the painting for public display with a £4 million fundraising drive after it was put up for sale by drinks giant Diageo, said Sir Edwin made annual trips to the north of Scotland and there is “no doubt” the Monarch of the Glen depicts a Highland setting.

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It is thought the painting was completed at Sir Edwin’s studio in London but NGS said the original exhibition of the work referred to a poem titled ‘Legends of Glenorchay’.

A gallery spokesman said: “Though we can’t be sure of the precise location, there is no doubt that Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen depicts a Highland setting.

“Landseer was born in London, but from 1824 he made annual trips to the Highlands and painted the magnificent wildlife and landscapes of the region.

“The resulting paintings range from intimate and remarkably fresh studies painted on the spot, to his most famous large-scale picture, The Monarch of the Glen.

“Landseer suggested its identity when he first exhibited the painting by including, in the accompanying catalogue, lines from an anonymous poem called Legends of Glenorchay, which describes a stag named ‘The Monarch the Glen’ surveying the landscape around his ‘lair’ in the ‘wild Glen-Strae’.”

He added: “He enjoyed aristocratic patronage, and painted at many estates across Britain, including Lord Breadalbane’s Blackmount estate in north Argyllshire - home to the forest of Glenorchy - and those of the Duke of Devonshire at Chatsworth in Derbyshire, and the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire.

“He also kept a menagerie of animals - including deer - at his studio in St John’s Wood in London, where we believe it is most likely that he painted The Monarch of the Glen.

“His own experience of the Highlands exhilarated him and his paintings played a key role in formulating the deeply attractive and romantic image of the region, which still resonates today.”

The painting is currently on tour across Scotland and is on display in Inverness until November 18.