Robert Ineratity Herdman (1829 – 1888) is considered one of the best examples of history painting in Scotland during the Victorian era. It is true that throughout his career he also painted various portraits as well as interesting landscapes for which he used the watercolor technique, but without a doubt his greatest talent was in paintings that captured the key episodes and characters in Scottish history. Some works that evidently showed the most romantic aspects of those chapters from the past.
The Farewell of Mary I by Robert Herdman
A good example is this painting from 1867 dedicated to Mary Stuart (1542 – 1587). This woman wasMary I of Scotlandbetween the years 1542 and 1567. She acceded to the throne when she was only six days old. She furthermore, when she was barely 16 years old, she marriedFrancis, the futureking of France, with whom she soon became queen consort. However, that union lasted very little time, when her husband died in 1560. So shortly after the young woman she left France to return to Scotland.
It is precisely this return to her country that presents us with the picture ofRobert Herdman. An image in which she manifests herself as María Estuardo left with sorrow, leaving behind a country where she had been treated well and she had received a complete education. In fact, there are testimonies that say that thefarewell was painful and when the ship sailed from the French port of Calais bound for Scotland everything took on a nostalgic tone. It is related that the queen, while the ship moved away from the coast, said to herself: “Goodbye France, goodbye. I think I'll never see you again.”
And she was right. But what she could not even imagine about her is that she was waiting for her when she returned to her home, as well as everything that was going to happen to her in the following years. She would be widowed again, she would lose her crown, she would be betrayed, imprisoned in various British castles by order of Queen Elizabeth I of England, and finally imprisoned and executed. A life of the most eventful and romantic. Which makes her one of the favorite characters in Scottish history for Scottish artists.
Especially for people like Herdman a true lover of his land, who triumphed there, and although he traveled on more than one occasion to Italyto immerse himself in transalpine painting, especially the colors of the Venetian school, the truth is that he was feeling wonderful in his Edinburgh, he even gave up at the time to settling down in London, where he would undoubtedly have acquired more fame and money.
But he was never short of work, he was constantly receiving commissions and today his work hangs not only inmuseums in Scotland, but in others in theUnited Kingdomand from various countries