David Cox, Sr. (1783-1859)
The Retreat of John Graham of Claverhouse to the Castle of Tillietudlem
Pencil and watercolor
9-3/4 x 12 ½ inches
Provenance: Agnew’s; private collection, UK to 2007
This late watercolor depicts a scene from Sir Walter Scott’s novel Old Mortality, published in 1815. This historical romance, set in seventeenth century Scotland, includes an episode based on the story of John Graham of Claverhouse, 1st Viscount Dundee, who led the Jacobites at the battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 in an attempt to restore James VII to the throne.
In this picture the immense rocks towering over the retreating soldiers display Cox’s preoccupation with the grandeur of the natural world and the relative insignificance of man’s activities. Cox is also far less engaged in story telling than in “painting as painting” Another, larger, version of this composition by Cox is in a private collection. More on David Cox.