Artist and TV presenter Lachlan Goudie has taken three years to compile The Story of Scottish Art. Here are his favourite works. Have a look and tell us what you think at

The Westray Venus/Wifey

5,000-year-old figurine discovered in the Links of Noltland on the Orkney island of Westray

This 41mm high sandstone figurine, which was uncovered on a beach by an archaeologist during a dig in 2009 on Westray on the north west coast of the Orkney archipelago, dates back to the Neolithic Period. Quickly dubbed, The Westray Wifey, by locals, it is deemed to be the oldest piece of figurative art in Scotland and that blows my mind. Since her discovery, the Wifey has been rechristened 'the Orkney Venus'.Two round marks etched into her chest have been interpreted as breasts, sparking comparisons with the ancient fertility figurines of Ancient Greece.

St Marnock's Church, Fowlis Easter, Fife

Pre-Reformation oak board paintings of the Crucifixion

There has been a church in Fowlis Easter since 1180 and today St Marnock's looks unprepossessing, like a grey stone barn. But the painting of the Crucifixion inside is one of only two surviving pre-Reformation crucifixion paintings in Scotland – and if you look closely at the painting you understand why that is. The brutality in the scene is matched by an assault on the image itself. Some panels bear scars; there are holes left by nails driven into the wood. Throughout the kirk, there are other signs of damage: sculptures of angels with their faces smashed, saints decapitated.

Allan Ramsay

Infant Son of the Artist, 1741

For a long time, I mistook the porcelain perfection of Allan Ramsay's portraits for sterility. But in fact, this cool surface is a mask belying powerful feelings of love and loss trembling beneath the surface. In no work is this more evident than his portrait of his portrait of his dead son, a small oil on canvas work which he painted after the death of his 14-month-old son. He later told a friend that "while thoroughly occupied thus, [he] felt no more concern than if the subject had been an indifferent one. All grief was gone." As a father that really hit home to me.

Edwin Landseer

The Monarch of the Glen, 1851

Edwin Landseer was an Englishman but in his most celebrated work, Monarch of the Glen, he was creating within a Scottish context. Depicting a stag emerging from the heather, there has never been a more potent evocation of Scotland in the Scottish imagination; it's right up there with bagpipes, tartan and a mouthful of shortbread. But few other canvases have provoked such conflicting emotions in the psyche of a nation. Some see it today as an example of cultural colonialism, a myth imposed by an Englishman that obscures Scotland's authentic national identity. The Monarch is a canvas with a complicated pedigree, but images like this, painted beautifully and cleverly composed to both seduce and dominate the viewer, helped turn Scotland into a blockbuster.

James Guthrie

A Hind's Daughter, 1883

No matter how many times I see James Guthrie's A Hind's Daughter, the image remains so immediate that it feels like I'm stumbling across the scene for the first time. The girl glances up, catches my eye just as she would have locked onto Guthrie's, and watches silently as I leave her behind. It's a snapshot devoid of bombast or melodrama, a distillation of the group of painters known as the Glasgow Boys' most cherished ideals. In this painting Guthrie carefully controls the tone in order to simulate the sunshine pouring softly through the Scottish clouds. Guthrie's handling of paint is hugely influenced by the French artist, Jules Bastien-Lepage, who was a guiding light to all the Glasgow Boy painters.

Arthur Melville

Dancers at the Moulin Rouge, 1889

A detail from Arthur Melville's Dancers at the Moulin Rouge is on the front cover of The Story of Scottish Art. And with good reason. Melville was not an abstract painter, but he was an artist who knew when to trust the unconscious gestures his hands performed in the blink of an eye. In one heady night at the Moulin Rouge in 1889, Melville simply allowed colour to pour from his brush. This led to an image where three overlapping pools of pigment spill and ripple into each other, this way then that. It is deliriously joyful.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh

The Mackintosh Building, The Glasgow School of Art, 1896–1909

My father was a tutor at the Glasgow School of Art, and I vividly recall the first day he took me on a tour of the Mackintosh Building. Everywhere I noticed a constant relay of architectural details: polished brass doorplates, oak beams pierced with heart motifs, mosaics, wrought iron and leaded glass. It is a cultural tragedy that "The Mack", in my view the greatest masterpiece in the history of Scottish art, should have been ravaged and ultimately destroyed by two fires in 2014 and 2018. This was a structure with soul. And the source of this spirit – the lifeblood that coursed through the mortar of the building – was Charles Rennie Mackintosh himself.

J.D. Ferguson

Les Eus, c. 1910

When a 40-year-old Scottish artist called John Duncan Fergusson met a young dancer called Margaret Morris in his studio in Paris in 1913, they embarked on a passionate relationship which lasted a lifetime. Morris, a dancer trained in the techniques of Isadora Duncan – an unconventional dancing style based on movements derived from ancient Greek art – became both his lover and his muse. When he met Morris, Fergusson had been struggling with a vast canvas depicting a dance. The composition which became Les Eus (an invented word meaning "the healthy ones") is charged with radical new ideas about colour, line and abstraction – a homage to the power and eroticism of the human form. It established Fergusson as an avant-garde artist.

Alan Davie

Sacrifice, 1956

Grangemouth-born Alan Davie (1920-2014) used art to funnel ferocious feeling. An artist whose work trembles on the edge of abstraction, he once said: "I want to produce art that just happens…like falling in love." Although what "happened" on his canvases throughout the 1950s had parallels with the work of another Scottish artist, William Gear, it was not the angst-ridden art of Parisian existentialism. Something much more unhinged was going on in paintings like Sacrifice, three metres of disembowelled symbols with a pulsing, pagan undercurrent.

Joan Eardley

Two Children, 1963

Seeing Joan Eardley's work as a child at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow, gave me an instant connection. It was hard to choose which work of hers I would pick out of all her paintings. It was a tie between The Wave, a seascape she painted in Catterline, and Two Children, a late unfinished work which was in her Glasgow when she died in 1963 at the age of just 42. All her works have so much soul. I don't know why she is not internationally famous.

Read our interview with Lachlan Goudie in tomorrow's Herald Magazine

The Story of Scottish Art by Lachlan Goudie will be published by Thames & Hudson on 3 September, £29.95