A nationwide tour of one of Scotland’s most iconic paintings has been unveiled - months after its future was secured.
The Monarch of the Glen will visit Perth, Paisley, Inverness and Kirkcudbright following a global fundraising drive to keep Sir Edwin Landseer’s masterpiece in the country.
It will spend seven weeks in each location as part of the £175,000 tour, which will run between October and May, and is being bankrolled by the Scottish Government and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The 1851 painting of a stag set against a remote Highland backdrop was set to come onto the open market for the first time in 100 years after Diageo decided to put it up for sale.
But it was withdrawn from Christie’s in London after the company struck a deal to sell it to the National Galleries of Scotland for less than half its £10 million valuation.
It had been on long-term loan to the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh for the previous 20 years. It has been on display at the Scottish National Gallery in the capital since a £4 million fundraising target was reached in March.
Both Perth and Paisley are vying to be named UK City of Culture in 2021, with a winner due to be announced by the end of this year, while campaigners hope a new art gallery in Kirkcudbright are expected to get a share of a hoard of Viking treasures which were found on Church of Scotland land in the area.
Sir John Leighton, director-general of the National Galleries, said: “We looked to galleries where we already had a partnership or a relationship. The UK City of Culture bidding process was certainly on my mind and we’ve had lots of discussions with Kirkcudbright to see what we could do to be part of the new gallery there.
“We feel very strongly that the national collections belong to everybody. Every time we work with a partner it helps to generate excitement, but also helps local museums and galleries with their efforts to attract more visitors.
“There could well be other tours of the Monarch of the Glen in future, but a venue has to have the right security arrangements and the right environmental conditions. It can’t just be hung in any old space."
David Lockwood, project manager of Kirkcudbright Art Gallery, which is due to open in the spring, said: “The National Galleries has been on our board for some time and they’ve very kindly thought of us for the Monarch of the Glen.
“It’s fantastic that people won’t have to travel miles and miles to see such an iconic work of art. It will be a great start for the gallery.
“It will be going in the same room we were hoping to display the Galloway Hoard in. However we have an assurance that we will get the whole hoard for a brief period and part of it for a longer period.”
Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This tour will support people of all ages and backgrounds across Scotland to access and enjoy this iconic painting in their own communities, and will hopefully inspire those who see it to seek out further opportunities to engage in culture and the arts.”