This portrait of Alasdair Ranaldson MacDonell (1771–1828), 15th Chief of Glengarry was painted in Rome while he was on the Grand Tour. Glengarry embodied the romanticised notions of the Highlands that prevailed throughout the nineteenth century. Considering himself to be the last true example of a traditional Highland Chief, Glengarry employed a skilled Gaelic poet and piper and travelled with a 'tail' of retainers made up of his clansmen. He took his 'tail' with him to Edinburgh on the occasion of George IV’s visit to Edinburgh in 1824.
He was known as Alasdair Fiadhaich or Alasdair the untamed due to his fierce temper. This temper had particularly tragic results in 1798 when Glengarry killed Norman MacLeod, grandson of the Jacobite heroine Flora MacDonald, during a duel.
Glengarry's character and lifestyle provided the inspiration for his friend and contemporary Sir Walter Scott to create Fergus McIvor, the hero of his first novel Waverley. However, his exuberant way of life led the Glengarry family into debt, which later resulted in most of the estate being sold.
Where to see this painting?
Museum of the Isles
Armadale Castle, Armadale, Highland, Scotland, IV45 8RS
If you are planning a visit to see this painting, check with the collection first. Paintings can be moved at short notice.