A Souvenir from Scotland Gustave Doré Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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A Souvenir from Scotland was completed by Gustave Doré in 1879. It is one of many paintings of Scotland that he produced in his studio between the years of 1874 to 1881, based on sketches made whilst visiting the region.

We find the sun just peaking out from above the rolling hills of Scotland within this painting in which the artist is able to bring in beautiful tones of yellow and red. It is a stunning piece, though most detail is lost because of the darkness that falls across the foreground, as light continues to fade. The artist is likely to have created this image in his mind and worked from a Romanticist approach, rather than sitting in this particular spot at the time. He sketched many scenes from this region and visited Scotland several times, falling in love with its majestic scenery. He understood the position of man in relation to nature whilst staying here, and enjoyed producing paintings of it, as found with A Souvenir from Scotland. Historians have argued that his landscape paintings lacked some of the qualities of the great masters of this genre, but there is still much to enjoy here. Gustave Doré was passionate about painting and wanting to achieve the same levels of respect that he enjoyed as an illustrator, but he never quite realised this ambition and painting is still seen as something of a niche interest within his overall career. Other items from this series included The Scottish Highlands, which is one of the more famous iterations.

Romanticist landscape painting was all about creating an impression of a region, rather than attempting to produce a realistic reproduction of the environment. One can find many examples within the Hudson River School, a related movement from the US, in which artistic license would win over accuracy, and more viewers would care little about these adjustments from reality. Aesthetic beauty was the most important aspect of these paintings and to a certain degree this French painter would continue in the same manner. The idea of connecting with one's own emotions and adapting reality would continue onwards with the Impressionists who were predominantly based in France, particularly its key members. A Souvenir from Scotland may have come about from the artist witnessing the beauty of the Scottish landscape in low light, and then deciding to take some of his sketches and apply this time of the day over the top, mainly through the alteration of light and colour. The end result is breathtaking, though his paintings remain an underrated aspect of his career, even today. Most still consider him just as an illustrator, and maybe entirely unaware of his success in other mediums.

Although he made use of watercolours on occasion, perhaps tempted by the opportunity to work outdoors, the artist always had a preference for oils. He could make use of incredibly subtle variations in tone for all manner of different subjects and there was also a tactility to the medium which offered him something quite different. Watercolours was always something of a niche interest itself, popular in France and the UK but less so elsewhere. He was untrained but managed to teach himself the key ideas and techniques of both mediums, and can certainly be considered an accomplished painter, even if his success, and income, would come elsewhere. Today he remains regarded as an illustrator, first and foremost, but exhibitions on his achievements will normally attempt to also include elements from other parts of his career, with perhaps his landscape paintings of Scotland being amongst the most memorable of all. Doré retains a unique position within the history of French art and is much loved today, with his book illustrations still in print all around the world.

A Souvenir from Scotland in Detail Gustave Doré