John Faed’s well known paintings Rabbit Catches, is set to return to the Stewartry. Exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1867, the model for the rabbit catcher was Sandy Inglis, who lived in Neilson Square, Gatehouse.
Sandy Inglis is the main subject in some 14 of John Faed’s pictures and Rabbit Catches was the work chosen by Mary McKerrow to appear on the cover of her book The Faeds. Sandy was born in the parish of Borgue about 1798 and shortly after moved to Muirhead farm, Twynholm, when his father William took on the lease of this 60 acre farm. At the 1841 census, Sandy is described as an agricultural labourer working for his father and by the time of the 1851 census he had taken on the farm and was farming at Muirhead with his brother Peter. However, Sandy was not a successful farmer and by the early 1860s we find him living in Gatehouse with his sister Lydia. It was here that he was discovered by John Faed and became one of his favourite models.
Rabbit Catches hung for many years in Torosay Castle on the Island of Mull. In 2014, however, the contents of the castle were put up for auction and the painting was purchased by the Fine Art Society. Since then the Stewartry Museum has been raising funds to purchase the picture for the new gallery to be built in Kirkcudbright. Thanks to the generous support of many local people and organisations the target has now been reached for the purchase of the picture and it will be coming home to Galloway shortly, ensuring that John Faed has pride of place as the father of the Kirkcudbright School.