Fingal meets Coban-Carglas, daughter of King Torcul-Torno

Richard Westall (1765-1836), Fingal and Conbancarglas (also called Fingal meets Conban-Carglas), no date. Watercolor on paper. Robert H. Taylor Collection (RHT), Rare Books and Special Collections. Gift of Robert H. Taylor, Class of 1930.

Collector Robert Taylor not only acquired a first edition of the Gaelic poem cycle Fingal, published by James Macpherson in 1762 but also purchased a large watercolor by the British artist Richard Westall depicting one scene from this epic.

To put Westall in an art historical context, Thomas Rowlandson entered the Royal Academy at the Old Somerset house in 1772, William Blake followed in 1779, and Westall enrolled in 1785. He painted works for John Boydell’s Shakespeare Gallery, which was established in 1786 and later, served as Queen Victoria’s drawing master.

Westall illustrated many works of literature and we hold dozens of books decorated with his plates including works by John Milton, William Shakespeare, and Walter Scott. This undated watercolor illustrates an episode from Ossian’s poem, in which Fingal meets Coban-Carglas, daughter of King Torcul-Torno.

See also: James Macpherson (1736-1796), Fingal, An Ancient Epic Poem, in Six Books: Together with Several Other Poems, Composed by Ossian the Son of Fingal. Translated from the Gaelic language, by James Macpherson … (London: T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, 1762). Robert H. Taylor Collection (RHT) 18th-1010 Oversize