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Time For Golf! Golf Paintings

David Allan, William Inglis, Surgeon and Captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, 1787, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Detail.

Sport And Entertainment

Time For Golf! Golf Paintings

I used to live in St. Andrews, a small town in Scotland which is a legendary cradle of golf in the UK. Once, when I was strolling on a golf course, I wondered whether there were any golf paintings showing picturesque green Scottish hills and tiny white balls flying through the sky…

The Netherlands

Golf paintings: Rembrandt, The golf player, 1654, private collection, golf painting
Golf paintings: Rembrandt, The Golf-Player, 1654, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA.

Surprise, surprise! The first golf work I found was not Scottish at all! I thought that golf was born in the UK. However, nowadays it is generally accepted that modern golf developed in the Netherlands in the Middle Ages. I had no idea that Rembrandt made etchings of golfers!

Golf paintings: Adriaen van de Velde, Golfers on the Ice near Haarlem, 1668, National Gallery, London, UK, golf painting
Golf paintings: Adriaen van de Velde, Golfers on the Ice near Haarlem, 1668, National Gallery, London, UK.

Yet another Dutchman’s depiction of golf. This time a winter edition on ice! Why didn’t we really associate golf with the Netherlands? It’s probably because the game did not find international popularity until the late 19th century when it spread into the British Empire and the United States.

Scotland

Golf paintings: David Allan, William Inglis, Surgeon and Captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, 1787, National Galleries of Scotland, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, golf painting
Golf paintings: David Allan, William Inglis, Surgeon and Captain of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, 1787, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

The painter David Allan and his subject, the surgeon William Inglis were keen members of the Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers, the oldest golf club in the world. Inglis and his caddy (the boy carrying golf clubs) stand on Leith Links, about two miles from the city center, where the club was then located. Behind Inglis, we can see the annual trophy parade. Here, a golf club with silver balls attached to it is presented to the city and carried across the Links.

Golf paintings: Charles Lees, The Golfers, 1847, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, golf painting
Golf paintings: Charles Lees, The Golfers, 1847, National Galleries of Scotland, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.

This painting shows the climax of a match played on the Old Course at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club in St. Andrews (my town!). Sir David Baird and Sir Ralph Anstruther play against Major Hugh Lyon Playfair and John Campbell of Glen Saddel. This complex scene, which includes over fifty individual portraits, was painted with the help of photographs of some of the golfers.

Golf paintings: Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A., The Golf Course, North Berwick, c.1920, Christie's London, golf painting
Golf paintings: Sir John Lavery, The Golf Course, North Berwick, c.1920, private collection. Christie’s.

Ireland

Sir John Lavery RA was born in Belfast, Ireland, but he studied painting in Glasgow. Therefore he is associated with the Glasgow School. He is best known for portraits and wartime depictions. However, he often painted people being active and playing sports, as you can see in our Spot the ball post.

Golf paintings: Sir John Lavery, R.A., R.S.A., R.H.A., Lady Astor Playing Golf At North Berwick, 1921, Private collection, golf painting
Golf paintings: Sir John Lavery, Lady Astor Playing Golf At North Berwick, 1921, private collection. Sotheby’s.

I have never played golf, but it’s a great sport which makes you spend so much time outdoors. It’s always good for you, especially when the sun is shining and the grass is green (which on the golf course is always the case!). Enjoy the game!


Discover more sport themed articles:


Magda, art historian and Italianist, she writes about art because she cannot make it herself. She loves committed and political artists like Ai Weiwei or the Futurists; like Joseph Beuys she believes that art can change us and we can change the world.

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