Waller H Paton  ‘Dalmally’ 21st June 1878

Waller Hugh Paton is said to have been the first Scottish painter to have ‘painted a picture throughout in the open air’. His ‘Dalmally’ watercolour, signed 21st June 1878 in a field less than a mile away from where the painting now hangs in Dalmally Community Centre. The painting depicts a glorious ridge of peaks known as the Dalmally Horseshoe.

The painting contains an interesting detail – workmen on an embankment [see below]. Some believe this to be the road through Stronmilchan under construction, others workmen laying the railway embankment. The date the painting is signed is a significant pointer to the latter, as work on the railway line from Dalmally to Oban commenced just two months prior.

In that same year Paton travelled throughout landscape very familiar to us, painting ‘Glencoe’ in July, sketching ‘Glen Etive’ in July, Ardgartan in August and in the following year painting Kings House, Glencoe and Glen Etive. He has painted many places that you will be familiar with – within a 30 mile radius – and many others beyond.

Waller Hugh Paton: Other landscapes

Waller Hugh Paton: From Damask Design to Landscape Artist

Waller Hugh Paton, originally hailing from Dunfermline as the son of  damask designer , embarked on a transformative journey from textile industry to becoming a revered landscape painter. Initially following in his father’s footsteps, Joseph Neil Paton, Waller’s artistic spirit soon led him to pursue the serene and challenging world of painting.  Paton was probably the most important of the many Scottish landscape painters of the period who were directly influenced by the lectures and writings of John Ruskin and the principles of the Pre-Raphaelite movement.  As his artistic training was limited to informal tuition from John Adam Houston, he was essentially self taught, and this lack of academic training enabled him to accept Ruskin’s radical ideas. In an important lecture on Pre-Raphaelitism that Ruskin delivered in Edinburgh in November 1853, he said that the movement has but one principle, that of absolute uncompromising truth in all that it does, obtained by working everything, down to the most minute detail, from nature, and from nature only, every Pre-Raphaelite landscape background is painted to the last touch, in the open air, from the thing itself. His profound appreciation for the Scottish Highlands is vividly expressed through his watercolour and oil paintings. Elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1865, Waller Hugh Paton’s legacy is cemented by his extensive body of work, showcasing nearly 400 pictures that celebrate the natural beauty and intricate landscapes of Scotland.

How did painting end up in Dalmally?

A Vicky Saunders posted on the All about Dalmally Facebook Page on 9 December 2020 . . .
Does anyone recognise the view? This beautiful watercolour painting from 1878 entitled Dalmally shows figures building a railway embankment – presumably for the line from Callander to Oban, which was built 1866-1880. It is being sold at auction next Thursday, 17th December.

 “It seemed to us to be an opportunity that the Community couldn’t miss.  Waller Hugh Paton is renowned for his beautiful watercolours and both the National Gallery and the Royal Scottish Academy have purchased numerous of his works. It has additional value to our community it being Dalmally but also because it captures a unique period in time, the coming of the railway. It will continue to raise interest and bring pleasure beyond our days.

We were happy to be successful at the auction and happier still when
Dalmally Community Centre &
Dalmally Community Company joined us . . . (DHA)
Dalmally Historical Association in purchasing this memorable piece of art for the Community.

Since then we have also enjoyed the support of the G&I Community Council to fund the re-glazing.

It just takes one person to start an initiative, then a few supportive friends, then a couple of groups and then …

The more we do together, the more we get done.  If you’ve not already, why not throw your hat into the ring?

Join Our Community Efforts

Be a part of Glenorchy & Innishail Community Action by engaging in meaningful discussions and taking proactive steps to enhance our cherished locale.  Your voice and actions are crucial in shaping the future of our community.  Let’s collaborate to preserve the beauty and heritage of our area, inspired by the legacy of artists like Waller Hugh Paton, who captured the essence of the Scottish landscape through his art.