Escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven Castle, May 2, 1568 thumbnail 1
Not currently on display at the V&A

Escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven Castle, May 2, 1568

Oil Painting
1864 (painted)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

This painting, by the artist Thomas Danby, forms an example of the way in which titles of paintings can come to be changed throughout their history and how this can lead to very different ways in which the image is interpreted.

At some time since its original exhibition as 'An Escape' at the Royal Academy, London in 1864, the title of this painting came to be known as 'Escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven Castle, May 2 1568' and by association has been thought to be an illustration to chapter thirty five of 'The Abbot', a novel by the writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). However, the building is not Leven Castle and the female figure in the boat bears no resemblance to the well-established nineteenth century image of Mary Queen of Scots who did not, either in fact or fiction, retain possession of the infant James VI while she was in captivity.

The scene is, however, clearly intended to be Scottish and in a more generalised sense does derive from the popularity in the nineteenth century of scenes from history as portrayed by Sir Walter Scott. The painting expresses a mood of nostalgia and regret for the passing of an older heroic order which is the keynote in Scott's view of history and was one of his most lasting contribution to the Victorians' view of the past.


Object details

Categories
Object type
TitleEscape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven Castle, May 2, 1568 (popular title)
Materials and techniques
Oil on canvas
Brief description
Oil on canvas, 'Escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven Castle, May 2, 1568', Thomas Danby, 1864
Physical description
Oil on canvas depicting in the centre, on a choppy sea, a boat being rowed to the right of the composition. In the boat are seven figures including a knight in chain-mail (standing), an elderly man, a young woman and a child. Sea and sky are tinged with hues of sunset; the sun is hidden by clouds on the right and the crescent moon hangs high in the sky, centre left. In the background on the left is a mountainous coast on a projection of which stands a castle with light shining in some of the windows and a suggestion of flames and smoke coming from the top of the building.
Dimensions
  • Estimate height: 35.5in
  • Estimate width: 59.5in
Dimensions taken from Summary catalogue of British Paintings, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973
Marks and inscriptions
Signed and dated, 1864.
Credit line
Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon
Object history
Bequeathed by Joshua Dixon, 1885
Subjects depicted
Summary
This painting, by the artist Thomas Danby, forms an example of the way in which titles of paintings can come to be changed throughout their history and how this can lead to very different ways in which the image is interpreted.

At some time since its original exhibition as 'An Escape' at the Royal Academy, London in 1864, the title of this painting came to be known as 'Escape of Mary Queen of Scots from Loch Leven Castle, May 2 1568' and by association has been thought to be an illustration to chapter thirty five of 'The Abbot', a novel by the writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). However, the building is not Leven Castle and the female figure in the boat bears no resemblance to the well-established nineteenth century image of Mary Queen of Scots who did not, either in fact or fiction, retain possession of the infant James VI while she was in captivity.

The scene is, however, clearly intended to be Scottish and in a more generalised sense does derive from the popularity in the nineteenth century of scenes from history as portrayed by Sir Walter Scott. The painting expresses a mood of nostalgia and regret for the passing of an older heroic order which is the keynote in Scott's view of history and was one of his most lasting contribution to the Victorians' view of the past.
Collection
Accession number
1014-1886

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Record createdMarch 14, 2006
Record URL
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