Series of prints showing the traditional clothing of Scotland worn by various clans. Among the clothing are tartans — plaid woven fabrics associated with each surname. Each plate shows a person wearing the costume in a natural setting. According to the subtitle of the work, the illustrations show “appropriate figures, displaying their dress, tartans, arms, armorial insignia, and social occupations.” The theatrical presentation of the figures probably reflects both the artist’s background in theater as well as the Romantic view of Scotland in 19th century British culture, also reflected in literature popular at the time, such as the novels of Sir Walter Scott.
Robert Ronald McIan was born in Scotland and moved to London in his teens to become an actor, where he performed with the Bath and Bristol company, at the English Opera House and Drury Lane. He took up painting, specializing in Scottish subjects, and by 1835 was exhibiting his work, including the Royal Academy exhibitions of 1836 and 1838. In the early 1840s, he retired from theater to pursue a career as an artist, concentrating on dramatic scenes from Scottish history. Together with James Logan, an authority of Scottish clan history, McIan produced The Clans of the Scottish Highlands for the centenary of the 1745 Jacobite Uprising, with text by Logan and illustrations by McIan. The set was originally offered for sale by subscription. While there are errors or artistic license taken in some of the depictions, the work is still valued today as an historical record. Logan and McIan followed this work with The Highlanders at Home in 1848. McIan was also an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy.
Ackermann & Co. was a prominent British publisher and printseller. The firm was founded by Rudolph Ackermann (1764-1834), publishing as R. Ackermann from 1795 to 1829. Ackermann was born in Germany and came to England in the 1780s. He pioneered lithography in Britain (though frequently working with color-printed etchings and aquatints), and became a leading publisher of fine colorplate books, decorative prints and magazines, as well as sheet music of the Regency period. In 1797, Ackermann relocated the business premises to 101 Strand, which were known by 1798 as “The Repository of Arts,” also the title of a periodical with a large number of prints that he published from 1809 to 1828. As suggested by the full title of the publication, Ackermann’s Repository of the Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, the subject matter of the Repository was wide ranging. Among the most influential and popular images in the series were studies of Regency decorative arts, interior design and fashion, as well as various city and country views. Ackermann was a major patron of British artists and designers, notably the famous caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827), whose works were featured in the famous set of London interiors and exteriors entitled Microcosm of London (R. Ackermann, London, 1808-10). Ackermann also manufactured and sold art supplies. In 1829, Rudolph transferred the business to three of his sons, who traded as Ackermann & Co. from 1829 to 1859. The business continued until the end of the 20th Century, last operating as Arthur Ackermann and Son (with offices in the 20th Century in London, Paris, Chicago and New York).
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light toning and wear. Some printers information very close to margin, as issued.
Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 24 January 2005. http://www.devon.gov.uk/etched?_IXP_=1&_IXR=111144 (4 May 2007).
“Rudolph Ackermann.” National Portrait Gallery. May 2007. http://www.npg.org.uk/live/search/person.asp?LinkID=mp06540 (4 May 2007).Redgrave, Samuel. A Dictionary of Artists of the EnglishSchool: Painters, Sculptors, Architects, Engravers and Ornamentists. London: Longmans, Green, and Col., 1874. p. 268.
“The Clans of the Scottish Highlands.” Clan Heritage. http://www.rrmcian.com/pages/rrmcian.htm (19 December 2006).