R. R. McIan

Robert Ronald McIan (* 1803 in Scotland, † December 13, 1856 in Hampstead ( London) ) was a Scottish painter who painted romantic and traditional themes.


RR McIan was born in 1803 in Scotland and inspired at a young age for acting. As a teenager, he went to London to join the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden. With its extrovert character he was on very well with the work on stage and London life in the 1830s. Shortly thereafter, he began his second passion, painting, to discover and develop.

His first works he submitted to the Royal Academy of Painting in 1835. Then he published a series of images, the events from the military history of Scotland showed how the Battle of Culloden.

Collaboration with James Logan

In the early 1840s, encouraged by the positive response to his works, he left the stage to concentrate entirely on painting. A chance meeting with the writer James Logan led to the collaboration of the work The Clans of the Scottish Highlands, in the Logan wrote the text and McIan painted the illustrations.

Since the interest of Queen Victoria was known to all Scottish then sufficiently, RR McIan and James Logan held extensive research on the Scottish Highland clans and then published their joint work in two superb volumes by Ackermann and Co. 1845 and 1847.

The two volumes contain a series of 72 hand-colored print of the Scottish Highland clans with figure of clan tartans and were the first comprehensive and fully illustrated book about the Scottish clans, which represented each clan with its history and a picture of his belted plaid. The two books are still regarded as a definitive reference work on clans and their tartans, published to commemorate the hundred years before that took place uprising of 1745. They reflect the great interest in all Scottish resist that prevailed at that time in London and the USA.

Supposedly, the models were McIans specially dedicated castmates and there was much discussion about the accuracy of his work regarding the clothing, the tartan pattern and other details. It is now generally accepted that McIan in his interpretations to some degree used his artistic freedom and that his descriptions reflected the then- romanticized view of Scotland.

Even with his next release Gaelic gatherins or the highlanders at home on heather, river loch in 1847, he again worked with James Logan and showed everyday scenes of life of the inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands.

McIan was married until his death in 1856 with the painter Fanny and painted until he died of a wasting disease.


  • James Logan & Robert Ronald McIan: The Clans of the Scottish Highlands Ackerman & Co. in 1845 and 1847