The Scottish Landscape

Scotland is a small country but with lots of different types of landscapes. There are big cities, small fishing villages, sandy beaches, rocky cliffs and rolling farmland as well as the dramatic hills and lochs of the Highlands.

Lots of different events have created these landscapes.  Geology, weather, farming, spread of building have all had an impact on the look of Scotland.  Paintings from different periods can help us to see what life used to be like and how it has changed over time.  The can reveal the growth of cities and the way the countryside has changed in how it is used and how it looks.

For hundreds of years, artists have been inspired by the Scottish landscape. Lots of different styles of painting have been used to depict the landscapes. Some landscape paintings may simply record a beautiful view in great detail. In the 19th century, romantic stories about Scotland were popular, most significantly in the work of Sir Walter Scott. Added to this was the royal family's love of their Highland home at Balmoral which added to a romantic portrayal of Scotland in many pictures.   Some paintings are very detailed, others prefer to capture a special mood or atmosphere. Some artists might want people who look at their paintings to know exactly what it felt like to be standing next to the sea on a stormy day.

At Cove Balmoral Castle And Crathie Church


  1. Landscape paintings are very popular. Lots of people like looking at them in art galleries or buy them or copies to hang at home. Perhaps this is because it is like having a window with a view to anywhere in the world. Do you have a favourite view that you like to look at?  Is it the view from your bedroom window?  Try to paint a picture of your favourite view.
  2. Open the timelines for 1900-1930 landscape paintings and the 1950-1980 landscape paintings. Look at the paintings in these two timelines. Find features of the Scottish landscape in these paintings.
  3. Look at this painting of Aberdeen.  It was painted in 1756. What landscape features can you see in the painting? How has Aberdeen changed since 1756? What does the painting tell you about how the land around Aberdeen was used when Mosman painted this landscape?