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A person in Scotland is never more than 45 miles from the sea. Inhabitants, whilst seldom dipping their bodies in the waters, often have water on their minds. A compelling source of employment, inspiration and imagination through the centuries, their literature, music and theatre echo it. Their images depict it.


Proximity to the sea is one of several consistent Scottish geographic distinctions. This ‘Scottishness’, the particularities of that piece of the Earth’s surface that is currently called Scotland, has been at the core of ways of life and structures of feeling of all local cultures that flourished here. It will have impacted all artists who worked here.

45 artworks
Rough Seas, Todhead Lighthouse
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Maggie's Dundee

Rough Seas, Todhead Lighthouse 1980s–1990s

Lilian Strang Neilson (1938–1998)

Oil on board

H 20 x W 44 cm

Maggie's Dundee

A Stormy Day, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
Photo credit: Maggie's Dundee

A Stormy Day, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

John Muirhead (1863–1927)

Oil on canvas

H 40 x W 60 cm

Maggie's Dundee

Sea and Snow, Catterline
© the Eardley estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

Sea and Snow, Catterline c.1958

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921–1963)

Oil on hardboard

H 18.2 x W 33 cm

National Galleries of Scotland

Seascape (Foam and Blue Sky)
© the Eardley estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: Antonia Reeve

Seascape (Foam and Blue Sky) 1962

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921–1963)

Oil on board

H 94 x W 167 cm

National Galleries of Scotland

Muckle Meg
© the artist. Photo credit: Glasgow Museums

Muckle Meg 1953–1954

Morris Grassie (b.1931)

Oil & gesso on wood

H 76.2 x W 101.6 cm

Glasgow Museums

A Northerly Breeze
Photo credit: The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

A Northerly Breeze 1870

Joseph Henderson (1832–1908)

Oil on canvas

H 44.2 x W 74.5 cm

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

From the Cliffs of Ailsa
Photo credit: Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire Council Collections

From the Cliffs of Ailsa

Joseph Henderson (1832–1908)

Oil on canvas

H 109 x W 177 cm

Paisley Museum and Art Galleries, Renfrewshire Council Collections

Fisherrow Harbour
Photo credit: East Lothian Council

Fisherrow Harbour

H. P. Stirling

Oil on board

H 36.5 x W 47.4 cm

East Lothian Council

Their Only Harvest
Photo credit: Fife Cultural Trust, on behalf of Fife Council

Their Only Harvest

Colin Hunter (1841–1904)

Oil on panel

H 51 x W 71 cm

Fife Council

Night Sea
© the artist. Photo credit: RWA (Royal West of England Academy)

Night Sea

Janette Kerr (b.1957)

Oil on canvas

H 44 x W 40 cm

RWA (Royal West of England Academy)

Musselburgh
Photo credit: East Lothian Council

Musselburgh

Alexander Young (1865–1923)

Oil on canvas

H 29 x W 44 cm

East Lothian Council

Dusk at Fisherrow, Musselburgh
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Heriot-Watt University

Dusk at Fisherrow, Musselburgh

William Ferguson

Oil on board

H 24.2 x W 34.3 cm

Heriot-Watt University

Passing St Kilda
© the artist. Photo credit: Fife Cultural Trust, on behalf of Fife Council

Passing St Kilda 2003

Frances Walker (b.1930)

Oil on panel

H 108.9 x W 153 cm

Fife Council

Approaching St Kilda, Outer Hebrides
© the artist. Photo credit: NHS Tayside

Approaching St Kilda, Outer Hebrides

Jean Rodger (b.1934)

Oil on canvas

H 182 x W 152 cm

NHS Tayside

Dornoch
Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

Dornoch 1877

George Reid (1841–1913)

Oil on canvas

H 78.6 x W 110.3 cm

Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

Montrose, Angus
Photo credit: Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

Montrose, Angus 1888

George Reid (1841–1913)

Oil on canvas

H 83.3 x W 102.5 cm

Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

Kelp Gatherers
Photo credit: Burton Art Gallery and Museum

Kelp Gatherers 1881

Colin Hunter (1841–1904)

Oil on canvas

H 50 x W 90 cm

Burton Art Gallery and Museum

The Naturalist
Photo credit: Perth & Kinross Council

The Naturalist 1878

Colin Hunter (1841–1904)

Oil on canvas

H 50.8 x W 91.4 cm

Perth & Kinross Council

The Storm
Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

The Storm 1890

William McTaggart (1835–1910)

Oil on canvas

H 122 x W 183 cm

National Galleries of Scotland

Shipyard Brag
© the artist. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

Shipyard Brag 1996

James S. Davis (b.1944)

Acrylic on canvas

H 99 x W 149 cm

Scottish Maritime Museum

View of Craigendoran Pier
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

View of Craigendoran Pier c.1940

Arthur James Wetherall Burgess (1879–1957)

Oil on canvas

H 59 x W 84 cm

Scottish Maritime Museum

The Loss
© the artist. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

The Loss 1990

Joyce W. Cairns (b.1947)

Oil on board

H 183 x W 122 cm

Scottish Maritime Museum

Shore Patrol
© the artist. Photo credit: University of Strathclyde

Shore Patrol

Joyce W. Cairns (b.1947)

Oil on canvas

H 121.5 x W 182.2 cm

University of Strathclyde

Trawler 1
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

Trawler 1 c.1974

Sylvia Wishart (1936–2008)

Oil on canvas

H 90 x W 90 cm

Scottish Maritime Museum

Woman of the North Sea
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Bridgeman Images

Woman of the North Sea

John Bellany (1942–2013)

Oil on canvas

H 76.2 x W 51 cm

Fry Art Gallery

The Boat Builders
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

The Boat Builders 1962

John Bellany (1942–2013)

Oil on board

H 274.3 x W 488.7 cm

Scottish Maritime Museum

Fishers in the Snow
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Scottish Parliament Art Collection

Fishers in the Snow 1966

John Bellany (1942–2013)

Oil on board

H 250.7 x W 326.9 cm

Scottish Parliament Art Collection

The ‘Dawn Pearl’ in Port Seton Harbour
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

The ‘Dawn Pearl’ in Port Seton Harbour before 2006

John Bellany (1942–2013)

Oil on canvas

H 90 x W 90 cm

Scottish Maritime Museum

Fishing Boat
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Dumfries and Galloway Council

Fishing Boat 1964

John Bellany (1942–2013)

Oil on board

H 122 x W 152.6 cm

Dumfries and Galloway Council

On the Clyde
Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

On the Clyde c.1830

James Francis Williams (1785–1846)

Oil on canvas

H 40 x W 62 cm

Scottish Maritime Museum

Working the Long Lines
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Scottish Fisheries Museum

Working the Long Lines

James More Horsburgh (1924–2007)

Oil on panel

H 52 x W 114.5 cm

Scottish Fisheries Museum

Hauling the Drift Nets
© the artist's estate. Photo credit: Scottish Fisheries Museum

Hauling the Drift Nets

James More Horsburgh (1924–2007)

Oil on canvas on board

H 52 x W 114.5 cm

Scottish Fisheries Museum

The Fisher Lass
© the copyright holder. Photo credit: Scottish Fisheries Museum

The Fisher Lass c.1914

John McGhie (1867–1952)

Oil on canvas

H 100 x W 121.5 cm

Scottish Fisheries Museum

Boats on the Shore
© the Eardley estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

Boats on the Shore c.1963

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921–1963)

Oil on hardboard

H 101.6 x W 115.6 cm

National Galleries of Scotland

On the Fife Coast
Photo credit: The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

On the Fife Coast 1860–1878

Samuel Bough (1822–1878)

Oil on canvas

H 35 x W 45.4 cm

The Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum

Seascape
Photo credit: Lakeland Arts

Seascape

Samuel Bough (1822–1878)

Oil on panel

H 28.5 x W 52 cm

Lakeland Arts

Off St Andrews
Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

Off St Andrews 1856

Samuel Bough (1822–1878)

Oil on canvas

H 36.2 x W 45.8 cm

National Galleries of Scotland

Ben More from Martyrs Bay, Iona
Photo credit: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

Ben More from Martyrs Bay, Iona c.1925

Samuel John Peploe (1871–1935)

Oil on canvas

H 63.5 x W 76 cm

Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow

Scottish Mother and Child
© the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Scottish Mother and Child 2005

John Bellany (1942–2013)

Oil on canvas

H 119 x W 90 cm

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

Skye Fisherman, in Memoriam
© the artist. Photo credit: Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)

Skye Fisherman, in Memoriam 1989

Will Maclean (b.1941)

Oil & mixed media on board

H 129.5 x W 119.4 cm

Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)

Northern Totem
© the artist. Photo credit: Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)

Northern Totem 1975

Will Maclean (b.1941)

Oil & mixed media on box construction

H 66 x W 50.5 cm

Dundee Art Galleries and Museums Collection (Dundee City Council)

Oiled Birds, Kingskettle
© the artist. Photo credit: Maggie's Cheltenham

Oiled Birds, Kingskettle late 20th C

Will Maclean (b.1941)

Acrylic on canvas

H 19.3 x W 19.3 cm

Maggie's Cheltenham

Winter, Tentsmuir
© the artist. Photo credit: Fife Cultural Trust, on behalf of Fife Council

Winter, Tentsmuir

Marian Leven (b.1944)

Acrylic on board

H 20.8 x W 40.8 cm

Fife Council

Voyage of the Anchorites
© the artist. Photo credit: Scottish Parliament Art Collection

Voyage of the Anchorites 1996

Will Maclean (b.1941)

Yellow pine, MDF board, acrylic glue, acrylic paint, acrylic filler paste

H 188 x W 126 x D 10 cm

Scottish Parliament Art Collection

Summer Sea
© the Eardley estate. All rights reserved, DACS 2021. Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

Summer Sea 1962

Joan Kathleen Harding Eardley (1921–1963)

Oil & paper on board

H 122.2 x W 183 cm

Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture