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Portrait of Niel Gow

Niel Gow, celebrated fiddler and composer to the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Dukes of Atholl, is said to be the father of Scottish fiddle music.

Niel learned to play fiddle as a child tutored by John Cameron of Grandtully. At the age of 18, he won a fiddle contest being judged by John McCraw, a blind fiddle player who declared Gow's style to be highly distinctive.

The competition brought him to the attention of James Murray, 2nd Duke of Atholl, who became a patron, employing him to play at balls and other events held at Blair Castle and paying him a retainer of £5 per year.

Gow wrote over 87 fiddle tunes and died in 1807. Also on display are one of his fiddles and his chair.

Mid 18th century
Oil on canvas

Where you'll find this

Blair Castle & Gardens