James Guthrie’s A Hind’s Daughter at the National Gallery of Scotland

This is the second in our series of favorite paintings in favorite galleries. If you have one you’d like to share, let us know!

By Jocelyn Rose

James Guthrie (1859-1930) was a Scottish artist and member of the ‘Glasgow Boys’ group, one of whose aims was to get away from the traditional themes of Scottish painting (glens, stags, portraits of aristocrats) and look at ordinary people and, especially, rural life. Guthrie was from Berwickshire in the Scottish Borders where he lived for most of his life, though he did travel to France where he was interested to see works depicting peasant life – not the fashion in Scotland at that time, nor in England either.

‘A Hind’s Daughter’ – a hind was a farm servant, who typically would live in a tied cottage on the farm – was painted in 1883 and can be seen presently in the Scottish National Gallery, which is an imposing neoclassical building on the Mound in central Edinburgh, between the Castle and Princes Street. Many’s the happy hour I’ve whiled away there. 

I like everything about the painting – the composition, the colour palette, the fact that it depicts the reality of life, and there aren’t many paintings involving cabbages; but most of all, of course, the child herself who looks directly at the viewer, calm and stern and sure of herself. You’d not want to mess with her. She’s got a knife. But you do wonder what her future will be.

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