Henry & Hornel – The Druids – Bringing in the Mistletoe

As seen by Linda at Kelvingrove museum Glasgow.


This is what it says on the Kelvingrove Museum website about this painting.

George Henry and Edward Atkinson Hornel were members of a group of artists called the Glasgow Boys who, at the end of the 19th century, revolutionised Scottish painting. This painting, dating from 1890, was the first painting on which the two artists collaborated and is their most daring composition. It displays the rite of bringing in the sacred mistletoe, depicting a group of druids or Celtic priests in richly decorated ceremonial robes and insignia, proceeding down a steep hillside in solemn procession. The mistletoe, having been cut from the sacred oak by a golden sickle held by the chief Druid, is ceremoniously received by subordinates in white raiment and borne home reverently on the backs of the white bulls. Mistletoe is significant as a plant revered by the druids for its magical as well as medicinal properties.

In the 1890s there was a revival of interest in Celtic art and folklore. The influence of this can be seen the use of complex intertwining patterns on the priests’ robes and also on the pattern work of the frame.

Next to the painting there is a touch screen for visitors to learn more about the painting. I clicked on every possibility so that I could show you all, what the museum is saying about Druids (and the painting).

The Procession


The Moon and Snow


The Oak Tree


The Cattle and Mistletoe


The Sickle


Then there are three other screens presenting items that might have been used as part of the inspiration for this painting:

The Dunnichen Stone


The Aylesford Bucket


The Glamis Stone


~ Linda