Peter Davidson — Borrowed from Nasmyth

A Deciduous Tree and a Conifer Borrowed from Nasmyth, oil on canvas

The contemporary Scottish artist Briony Anderson, has a thoughtful and individual relation with the Scottish landscape, especially with the Scottish landscape as it has been perceived by earlier artists. Amongst her recent works have been a series based on the often finely-perceived and finely executed landscapes in the backgrounds of the portraits by Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823).

This work, created as a commission for the University of Aberdeen NORTH theme, takes as its starting point the way in which two semi-stylised trees are presented in a small canvas of King’s College by Nasmyth (or by his studio and assistants) – these then become the focus of a densely textured canvas, concealing and revealing the landscape behind as though in coastal mist. The effect of this reworking is to locate the image firmly in the northernmost parts of the British Isles, retaining foreground features from an idealised landscape but giving it a background which is a reminder of the real and adverse weather conditions of the north of Europe and (more intensely) of those regions lying further north.

Peter Davidson is a Senior Research Fellow and Archivist at Oxford University, previously Professor of Renaissance Studies, teaching literature and art history at the University of Aberdeen. Text copyright, Peter Davidson 2015.

The Far North: Frozen Stars, Shifting Ice & the Silence Beyond, Sir Duncan Rice Library, University of Aberdeen, 3 April 2015 – 20 September 2015