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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 1980s–1990s
    Lilian Strang Neilson (1938–1998)
    Oil on board
    H 20 x W 44 cm
    Maggie's Dundee
    Rough Seas, Todhead Lighthouse
    © the artist's estate. 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
    A Stormy Day, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire
    Photo credit: Maggie's Dundee

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

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

  • Muckle Meg 1953–1954
    Morris Grassie (b.1931)
    Oil & gesso on wood
    H 76.2 x W 101.6 cm
    Glasgow Museums
    Muckle Meg
    © the artist. Photo credit: Glasgow Museums

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

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

  • Fisherrow Harbour
    H. P. Stirling
    Oil on board
    H 36.5 x W 47.4 cm
    East Lothian Council
    Fisherrow Harbour
    Photo credit: East Lothian Council

  • Their Only Harvest
    Colin Hunter (1841–1904)
    Oil on panel
    H 51 x W 71 cm
    Fife Council
    Their Only Harvest
    Photo credit: Fife Council

  • Night Sea
    Janette Kerr (b.1957)
    Oil on canvas
    H 44 x W 40 cm
    RWA (Royal West of England Academy)
    Night Sea
    © the artist. Photo credit: RWA (Royal West of England Academy)

  • Musselburgh
    Alexander Young (1865–1923)
    Oil on canvas
    H 29 x W 44 cm
    East Lothian Council
    Musselburgh
    Photo credit: East Lothian Council

  • Dusk at Fisherrow, Musselburgh
    William Ferguson
    Oil on board
    H 24.2 x W 34.3 cm
    Heriot-Watt University
    Dusk at Fisherrow, Musselburgh
    © the copyright holder. Photo credit: Heriot-Watt University

  • Passing St Kilda 2003
    Frances Walker (b.1930)
    Oil on panel
    H 108.9 x W 153 cm
    Fife Council
    Passing St Kilda
    © the artist. Photo credit: Fife Council

  • Approaching St Kilda, Outer Hebrides
    Jean Rodger (b.1934)
    Oil on canvas
    H 182 x W 152 cm
    NHS Tayside
    Approaching St Kilda, Outer Hebrides
    © the artist. Photo credit: NHS Tayside

  • Dornoch 1877
    George Reid (1841–1913)
    Oil on canvas
    H 78.6 x W 110.3 cm
    Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture
    Dornoch
    Photo credit: Royal Scottish Academy of Art & Architecture

  • Montrose, Angus 1888
    George Reid (1841–1913)
    Oil on canvas
    H 83.3 x W 102.5 cm
    Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums
    Montrose, Angus
    Photo credit: Aberdeen Art Gallery & Museums

  • Kelp Gatherers 1881
    Colin Hunter (1841–1904)
    Oil on canvas
    H 50 x W 90 cm
    Burton Art Gallery and Museum
    Kelp Gatherers
    Photo credit: Burton Art Gallery and Museum

  • The Naturalist 1878
    Colin Hunter (1841–1904)
    Oil on canvas
    H 50.8 x W 91.4 cm
    Perth & Kinross Council
    The Naturalist
    Photo credit: Perth & Kinross Council

  • The Storm 1890
    William McTaggart (1835–1910)
    Oil on canvas
    H 122 x W 183 cm
    National Galleries of Scotland
    The Storm
    Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

  • Shipyard Brag 1996
    James S. Davis (b.1944)
    Acrylic on canvas
    H 99 x W 149 cm
    Scottish Maritime Museum
    Shipyard Brag
    © the artist. 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
    View of Craigendoran Pier
    © the artist's estate. 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
    The Loss
    © the artist. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

  • Shore Patrol
    Joyce W. Cairns (b.1947)
    Oil on canvas
    H 121.5 x W 182.2 cm
    University of Strathclyde
    Shore Patrol
    © the artist. Photo credit: University of Strathclyde

  • Trawler 1 c.1974
    Sylvia Wishart (1936–2008)
    Oil on canvas
    H 90 x W 90 cm
    Scottish Maritime Museum
    Trawler 1
    © the artist's estate. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

  • Woman of the North Sea
    John Bellany (1942–2013)
    Oil on canvas
    H 76.2 x W 51 cm
    Fry Art Gallery
    Woman of the North Sea
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Bridgeman Images

  • The Boat Builders 1962
    John Bellany (1942–2013)
    Oil on board
    H 274.3 x W 488.7 cm
    Scottish Maritime Museum
    The Boat Builders
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

  • Fishers in the Snow 1966
    John Bellany (1942–2013)
    Oil on board
    H 250.7 x W 326.9 cm
    Scottish Parliament Art Collection
    Fishers in the Snow
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Scottish Parliament Art Collection

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

  • Fishing Boat 1964
    John Bellany (1942–2013)
    Oil on board
    H 122 x W 152.6 cm
    Dumfries and Galloway Council (Gracefield)
    Fishing Boat
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Dumfries and Galloway Council (Gracefield)

  • On the Clyde c.1830
    James Francis Williams (1785–1846)
    Oil on canvas
    H 40 x W 62 cm
    Scottish Maritime Museum
    On the Clyde
    Photo credit: Scottish Maritime Museum

  • Working the Long Lines
    James More Horsburgh (1924–2007)
    Oil on panel
    H 52 x W 114.5 cm
    Scottish Fisheries Museum
    Working the Long Lines
    © 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
    Hauling the Drift Nets
    © the artist's estate. 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
    The Fisher Lass
    © the copyright holder. Photo credit: Scottish Fisheries Museum

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

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

  • Seascape
    Samuel Bough (1822–1878)
    Oil on panel
    H 28.5 x W 52 cm
    Lakeland Arts Trust
    Seascape
    Photo credit: Lakeland Arts Trust

  • Off St Andrews 1856
    Samuel Bough (1822–1878)
    Oil on canvas
    H 36.2 x W 45.8 cm
    National Galleries of Scotland
    Off St Andrews
    Photo credit: National Galleries of Scotland

  • 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
    Ben More from Martyrs Bay, Iona
    Photo credit: The Hunterian, University 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
    Scottish Mother and Child
    © the artist's estate / Bridgeman Images. Photo credit: Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow

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

  • Oiled Birds, Kingskettle late 20th C
    Will Maclean (b.1941)
    Acrylic on canvas
    H 19.3 x W 19.3 cm
    Maggie's Cheltenham
    Oiled Birds, Kingskettle
    © the artist. Photo credit: Maggie's Cheltenham

  • Winter, Tentsmuir
    Marian Leven (b.1944)
    Acrylic on board
    H 20.8 x W 40.8 cm
    Fife Council
    Winter, Tentsmuir
    © the artist. Photo credit: Fife Council

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

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