The Monarch of the Glen to go on display at National Gallery

Painting of stag will be shown alongside Peter Blake version owned by Paul McCartney

The Monarch of the Glen, one of Scotland’s most recognisable and reproduced artworks, is to go on display at the National Gallery in London alongside a Peter Blake version owned by Sir Paul McCartney.

Edwin Landseer’s painting of a stag in a misty Highlands landscape will be displayed at the gallery for the first time in more than 160 years over the Christmas period.

For many, the artwork is quintessentially Scottish and its home is Edinburgh. But the London exhibition will be something of a homecoming, given that it was commissioned for the Houses of Parliament and first exhibited at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1851, when it was housed in the National Gallery building.

The Monarch of the Glen was saved for the nation last year after a £4m fundraising campaign averted the possibility of it being sold abroad.

The painting was in the Scottish National Gallery for so long many people assumed it was publicly owned. But the artwork was the property of the multinational drinks company Diageo and had been on loan for 17 years.

Diageo initially said it would auction the painting with an estimate of about £10m, but agreed to a reduced offer after National Galleries Scotland announced the fundraising campaign. It succeeded, with £2.65m coming from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The campaign was supported by Blake, a pop artist, who said the work was a national icon. “For many years, it was too beautiful, it was too corny, it wasn’t considered to be a great picture, but it has grown to be one. It is a magnificent painting of a magnificent animal – it has earned its right to be a great picture,” he said.

Blake made an acrylic copy of the painting in the 1960s for McCartney, not long after the Beatle bought a property in the Mull of Kintyre.

For many years, the Blake version has hung on the walls of McCartney’s office in London. The free National Gallery display will be the first time the Landseer and Blake have been seen together.

The National Gallery also announced an autumn exhibition that will feature loaned works from the Courtauld Collection.

The art, including Paul Cézanne’s Card Players, A Bar at the Folies-Bergère by Édouard Manet and Georges Seurat’s Young Woman Powdering Herself, will be displayed at the National Gallery alongside works it owns such as Cézanne’s Self Portrait and Camille Pissarro’s The Boulevard Montmartre at Night.

  • Landseer’s The Monarch of the Glen will be on display from 28 November to 3 February. Courtauld Impressionists: From Manet to Cézanne runs from 17 September until 20 January


Mark Brown Arts correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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