Alexander Reid of Kirkennan, Munches Old Mansion House - c.1797 watercolour


An original c.1797 watercolour painting, Alexander Reid of Kirkennan Munches Old Mansion House.

An extremely rare watercolour by Alexander Reid of Kirkennan (1747-1823), artist of the famous Robert Burns miniature portrait in the National Galleries of Scotland, which the poet described as 'the best likeness' of him ever to be made.

The painting shows the 18th-century Robert Adam-style residence of John Maxwell of Terraughty in Munches, Dumfriesshire. The house was demolished in 1858, and interestingly, we have found no record of this house, only of its replacement, a modern Gothic style granite mansion, built in 1858.

John Maxwell of Terraughty (1720-1814), descended from the powerful Scottish Maxwell line, was a successful and well known county figure. He bought back various family estates which had been sold due to financial difficulties, including the family estate of Terraughty, and Portrack, in the Parish of Holywood. Through his wife, Agnes Maxwell of Munches, he came to own Munches.

John Maxwell became a friend of the poet Robert Burns (1759-1796), when Burns settled in Dumfriesshire in 1788. Arguably Burns’ best lyric poetry was written during his time living at Dumfries.

On laid paper. With separate accompanying backing card giving the attribution in the hand of Reid's great-nephew, George Corson: 'Old house of Munches by Alexr Reid about 1797 or so'.

Unsigned. Inscribed verso: 'Munches old mansion House pulled down about 1858'.
Age toning, marks and foxing as shown. There is a pinhole to the paper upper left, and a short repaired tear at the upper edge.
15.9cm x 24.5cm.

This is one of a collection of four watercolours by Reid that we have for sale.

Alexander Reid of Kirkennan (1747-1823) was proprietor of the large Kirkennan estate near Dalbeattie, Kirkcudbright. A certain amount is known about his life: he received his artistic training in London and in Paris; executed numerous portraits, pictures, and drawings of persons, places, and scenes in Dumfries and Galloway; had a studio in the town of Dumfries, in which, in 1796, he painted a now-famous miniature portrait of Burns; he succeeded to Kirkennan on the death of his brother William, in 1804, and died unmarried, in 1823, aged 76.

The value of his work, however, is in its importance to vernacular literature and national history and antiquities. As a Stewarty Laird he was connected with all the most interesting people in one of the most interesting districts in Scotland, during a momentous period of Scottish history. He was friends with Burns, Francis Grose, Robert Glenriddell, during the rise of Romanticism in the arts and a period which did so much to shape our view of Scotland’s history today. Reid’s works, mainly topographical in nature, provide rare illustration of the persons, places and scenes of this area at this time.

Furthermore, his known work is extremely rare; of six engravings from his paintings known to collectors, the original of only one of them, ‘Kipp Cairns’, has been traced to its present owner.

Our four paintings were until now hidden from public view in a collection of works belonging to Reid’s great nephew, George Corson.

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Product code: JM-532

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