Although the official national animal of Scotland is a unicorn, most people would agree that the unofficial national animal would be a creature synonymous with Scotland, and beloved by its people; the Highland cow—the stout, red haired, shaggy cattle. Scotland’s love for the Highland cow can be seen in both contemporary and commercial art. The shaggy face and pointed horns of the cow can be seen adorning everything from mugs to doormats, with tourists and locals giving the creature plenty of admiration.
This May’s Scottish Contemporary Art Auction features four lots portraying the cherished cows, including two by one of Scotland’s most notable young artists, Georgina McMaster. There is much more than meets the eye when it comes to Highland cattle—they have one of the longest natural lifespans of any breed of cattle, on average 15-20 years, but some have been known to live up to 24! Highland cattle have been living in close proximity to humans since 1200 BCE, with archaeological evidence even showing they shared dwellings with Late Bronze Age humans.
The four lots for offer on 29 May are all intricate and detailed studies, focusing on the faces of each bonnie cow. With their soft pink nose and stylish fringe, these cows make for excellent models. So striking are these creatures that each artist has decided to put the spotlight on the cow themselves, and has not included a landscape for them; each cow, or pair of cows, is presented against a suitably unfurnished background, letting the compelling and elegant creatures to stand at the forefront of the viewer’s focus. Whether you are a Scottish native or a casual enjoyer of the treasured bovine, any of these lots are sure to excite.
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