The Mouth of the Helmsdale

The Mouth of the Helmsdale , by Colin Hunter, ARA, 1841-1904. 1898. Oil on canvas. H 61 x W 99 cm. Collection: Victoria Art Gallery Bathe. Accession no. BATVG : P : 1954.29, bequeathed by Miss A. D. Henderson, 1954; on loan to the Guildhall, Bath. Image downloaded from Art UK under the terms of the the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives licence (CC BY-NC-ND).

Helmsdale is on the north-eastern coast of Sutherland, in the Highlands of Scotland. A tourist guide of the Victorian period describes it as "a thriving and populous village at the mouth of the river of the same name"; the guide continues, "The secure little bay of Helmsdale is frequented by numerous herring busses, and its harbour is reckoned the safest station on the coast. In front of the village, and on the west side of the river’s mouth, are the ruins of a castle built by Lady Margaret Baillie, Countess of Sutherland... (563). This is the scene captured here by Hunter — past the bridge are, on one side, the busy docks, and, on the other, the ruined medieval castle, all seen in the half-light under a cloudy sky — picturesque but not prettified, both evocative and convincing. The bridge provides interest as well as a link between the two parts of the village. In the distance is a lone sailboat. — Jacqueline Banerjee


Black's Picturesque Tourist of Scotland. 18th ed. Edinburgh: Adam and Charles Black, 1868. Google Books. Free to read.

The Mouth of the Helmsdale. Art UK. Web. 31 October 2022.

Created 30 October 2022