This fine painting by the English artist James Barret is one of a pair that he painted of the Stornoway townscape in 1798. These are the two earliest known oil paintings of a Western Isles landscape. The artist depicts the harbour at sunset from Gallows Hill. The topography of the bay can be surveyed to good effect from here. The painting provides a window, through which we can see late eighteenth-century Stornoway. The town was being developed as an important fishing port by its Mackenzie proprietors. The artist shows the harbour busy with fishing boats.
Seaforth Lodge, the island residence of the Mackenzie proprietors, overlooks the town. The lodge was demolished in 1846 to be replaced by Lews Castle, which was built by Sir James Matheson when he purchased the island estate. The ruins of the medieval castle of Clan Macleod that once protected the settlement can be seen in front of South Beach on the right of the picture.
Where to see this painting?
Museum nan Eilean
Not all paintings are on display. If you want to see a particular painting, please contact the collection