The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Kenneth Macleay

Kenneth Macleay

A carte-de-visite portrait of the Scottish artist Kenneth Macleay (1802-1878).

Born at Oban on 4 July 1802, the son of a physician and antiquary, his early years were spent at Crieff. After studying art in Edinburgh, he quickly distinguished himself as a miniature painter. He was one of the original members of the Royal Scottish Academy when it was founded in 1826 and became a prolific and lifelong contributor. At first he worked on ivory but later preferred watercolours on paper. An early work which brought him much attention was a portrait of the actress Helen Faucit, which was reproduced as a popular lithograph.

As photography became more and more prevalent, the demand for miniatures waned. Consequently, Macleay turned his hand to larger scale oil paintings, producing genre scenes of Highland subjects and views of Scottish scenery. He is best remembered for a series of watercolours depicting the clans and tartans of the Scottish Highlands. Commissioned by the Queen, the series included portraits of the Prince Consort and Prince Alfred in Highland dress, as well as some of the retainers of the royal household at Balmoral. A selection of these were lithographed, hand-coloured and published in two volumes in 1870 under the title Highlanders of Scotland. Today the original watercolours are held at Windsor Castle.

In 1840 he married Louisa Campbell of Aldinglass. The marriage produced at least six children.

Kenneth Macleay died at Edinburgh on 3 November 1878.

Photographed by Lothian of Edinburgh.


Code: 126314
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