English Golf Courses

'Art of Golf' opens in home of golf

New exhibition, open until October, has over 60 golf paintings and photographs to admire

THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL GALLERY has announced its delight in taking part in the sporting celebrations in Scotland this summer with an exhibition dedicated to ‘The Art of Golf’.

Opening on July 12 in Edinburgh, and running until October 26, the exhibition explores golf as a subject of fascination for artists from the seventeenth century to the present day, with a particular emphasis on the emergence of the sport in Scotland.


The exhibition will bring together around 60 paintings and photographs, as well as a selection of historic golfing equipment.

The centrepiece of the show will be ‘The Golfers’, the famous 1847 painting by Charles Lee (1800-1880). This commemorates a match played on the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, St Andrews, by Sir David Baird and Sir Ralph Anstruther, against Major Hugh Lyon Playfair and John Campbell of Saddell.

It represents a veritable ‘who’s who’ of Scottish golf at that time and was famously reproduced in a fine engraving, which sold in great quantities. Lees made use of photography at a time where it was in its infancy to help him design the overall composition.

Works by artists such as Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Sir Henry Raeburn (1756-1823), HendrickAvercamp (1585-1634) and Paul Sandby (1731-1809) will also be displayed.

There will be a section devoted to Sir John Lavery (1846-1951) and his beautiful 1920s paintings of the golf course at North Berwick. Splendid railway posters from the inter-war years as well as contemporary photographs by Patricia Macdonald and Glyn Satterly will bring the exhibition up to the present day.

Golf has been played in Scotland since at least the 15th century. Whilst its origins are obscure, it is undoubtedly close the Netherlandish game of ‘colf’, which was played over rough ground or on frozen waterways, and involved hitting a ball to a target stick fixed in the ground or the ice.

‘Colvers’ playing on the frozen canals are seen in Dutch 17th century paintings, which form the earliest part of the show. In Scotland the game is often played over ‘links’ courses, originally rough common ground where the land meets the sea.


The majority of Scotland’s famous old courses, such as St Andrews or North Berwick, are links courses, and Sandby and Raeburn show the early links courses of Bruntsfield, Leith and Musselburgh in their works.

Michael Clarke, director of the Scottish National Gallery, said: “This show is designed to be fun and to bring together two publics, lovers of art and lovers of golf. Where better to do this than in this world-class gallery, with its great Old master and Scottish paintings, which is situated in Scotland’s beautiful capital city of Edinburgh, and through which so many golfers pass on their way to our internationally renowned courses.”

Generous loans from a number of famous Scottish golf clubs, the British Golf Museum in St Andrews and private collectors were all secured to make the exhibition possible.

See this magnificent exhibition for yourself at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh with prices set at £8 for adults. For more information on the exhibition or to buy tickets to attend, visit nationalgalleries.org

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