John Holland Snr (British, 1799 - 1879)

Near Calandar, Scotland

signed and inscribed 'Near Calandar, Scotland, J Holland Senr.' (lower left)
oil on canvas
59.7 x 90.1 cm (23½ x 35½ in)

Near Calandar, Scotland depicts a farmer guiding his cattle through a rugged and stormy landscape. At the front of the herd, a woman and two men in kilts, walk huddled together battling against the elements. Two horsemen shepherd the cattle, one of whom raises his whip high into the air, urging the cattle forward, although their progress seems slow. As the cattle trail off into the distance, the faint silhouettes of two figures can just be seen emerging over the hill. To the left of the cattle a group of people have set up a camp. Two figures watch the cattle pass while the rest take shelter in a make-shift shack, seeking warmth from a fire, its faint glow and white smoke just evident against the gloomy surroundings.

John Holland has purposefully depicted Near Calandar, Scotland from a low viewpoint, allowing him to paint a turbulent and expansive sky with dramatic lighting, which gives the painting its tempestuous atmosphere. The clouds roll heavily across the barren landscape and loom ominously over the exposed figures below. Holland’s free and rapid use of the paintbrush animates the painting – clouds swirl and figures are windswept. The thick application of paint adds texture to the rugged landscape and his choice of muddy, subdued colours enhances the bleak atmosphere.

Through such techniques, Holland masterly conjures up the wild and elemental Scottish countryside – the result being that one looks sympathetically upon the hardened figures who trudge on through this remote, often unforgiving environment.