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The First Step

Photo credit: National Trust for Scotland, Holmwood

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John Pettie, one of the 'London Scots', made his career painting charming scenes, often with characters in period dress – in this case Cromwellian costume. His works are often characterised by large expanses of dark background, with the people brightly lit in the foreground space where they enact narrative scenes that are easy to understand.

In 1874 Pettie was elected a Royal Academician, filling the vacancy caused by the death of Edwin Landseer. Two years later, in 1876, he exhibited this painting, in which a little girl with golden hair, in a pale blue dress, dances before her grandmother. The same old lady, with spinning-wheel and high-backed chair, formed the subject of another picture by Pettie titled 'Grandmother's Memories'.

National Trust for Scotland, Holmwood





oil on canvas


H 78.9 x W 121 cm

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Inscription description

J Pettie 1876


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National Trust for Scotland, Holmwood

61–63 Netherlee Road, Glasgow, Glasgow G44 3YU Scotland

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