This is a hard-to-find etching by the celebrated Scottish artist, Alexander Runciman (1736 - 1785).
The subject relates to early Scottish history - and is entitled The Landing of Saint Margaret.
Runciman was one of Scotland's most important 18th-century artists. He was born in the West Port of Edinburgh in 1736.
In the history of Scottish printmaking, he was one of the earliest exponents of original etching and one of the first artists to introduce a more expressive depiction of human form derived from the works of Michelangelo and High Renaissance Italian art.
In 1766 he travelled to Italy to study Classical art and architecture which he planned to introduce to his decorative scheme for his patron, Sir John Clerk at Pennycuik House. He remained in Italy for a period of five years. Instead of using his planned subjects from the Life of Achilles and Mythology, Runciman developed plans to decorate the House with more patriotic images from Scottish history - including images from Ossian in the Great Hall and further paintings featuring four episodes from the life of Saint Margaret in the stairwell. He produced a series of etchings that relate to his Penicuik designs.
Sadly, Pennycuik House, together with all his interior paintings, was destroyed by fire in 1899. Only his sketches (in the National Gallery of Scotland), a small series of photographs and a watercolour study of the interior survive to record Runciman's masterpiece.
He died in 1785, aged only 49. He is buried in the Canongate Church off the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
Runciman painted a large mural in the Canongate Church - and this is currently being restored and revealed after being covered over for many decades. Paintings by him are in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland.
The image in my etching shows Queen Margaret arriving in Scotland - she disembarks from a sailing ship seen in the distance - and her attendants are seen behind her carrying her possessions. She is given the status of a saint and to allude to that Runciman has added a little halo above her head. A group of churchmen stand at the archway to a Gothic church and watched the events of her arrival unfolding.
The Scottish King, Malcolm III (Malcolm Canmore) steps out to welcome Margaret. He offers her protection and marriage - but she initially declines his proposal stating that she would prefer a life of piety and service to the church. He persists with his wooing - and the couple finally marries in Dunfermline in 1069. This event features in another of Runciman's Saint Margaret etchings.
There are interesting early impressions of this etching (touched up with pen and ink) in the collection of the National Gallery of Scotland. There is a fantastic collection of Runciman drawing there - and I was lucky to be able to look after all these works as part of my job as curator there for 20 years!.
Condition: The print has been trimmed down to its margins so there is no platemark - this was a very common process in the late 18th century - when prints were cropped to fit into albums for viewing and never intended to be hung on display. Given its date and fragility - it is in good antique condition.
The etching is signed in the plate A. Runciman fecit.
The early impressions date to around 1772. I think that this one is possibly a later posthumous impression dating to the "Two Hundred Etchings" issues published in 1826.
Impressions are in prestigious gallery collections: The Metropolitan in New York, The British Museum, The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, The National Gallery of Scotland, The Tate Gallery, London, The Auckland Art Gallery, etc.
Dimensions: Image size is 22 x 18.5. The frame size is 37.5 x 32 cm. I have just had it professionally re-framed and given a new acid-free window mount so that it is ready for you to just hang on your wall.
The postage quoted is for UK Special Next Day Delivery with Royal Mail. This will cost £10 and be applied at the check out.
These works do not come up for sale very often - so a rare chance to acquire this interesting museum-quality original etching.