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Creator:
Paul Sandby RA, 1731–1809, British
Title:

Roslin Castle, Midlothian

Date:
ca. 1780
Medium:
Gouache on medium laid paper, mounted on board
Dimensions:
18 1/8 x 25 1/8 inches (46 x 63.8 cm) and 18 1/8 x 15 1/8 inches (46 x 38.4 cm)
Inscription(s)/Marks/Lettering:

Inscribed on vers in pen and black ink, lower center: "Rosslyn Castle | [...]";

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
B1975.4.1877
Classification:
Drawings & Watercolors
Collection:
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
amateur | artist | bridge (built work) | camera obscura | castle | children | clouds | hats | hills | ladies | landscape | light | picturesque | poet | river | Scottish | sheep | shepherd | sky | trees | women
Associated Places:
Esk | Europe | Midlothian | Roslin | Roslin Castle | Scotland | United Kingdom
Access:
View by request in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
Link:
https://collections.britishart.yale.edu/catalog/tms:13045
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Located about eight miles southwest of Edinburgh, Roslin Castle was built in the fourteenth century; it was damaged to a great extent after being besieged in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Its ruins, on a cliff overlooking the North Esk River, were celebrated by poets and immortalized by artists. The “beautifully wild and awfully sublime” vista also attracted numerous visitors (White, 1977, no. 40). Despite its title, Sandby’s composition is more likely a reflection of his contemporaries’ longing for such views rather than an attempt to render the castle accurately. A new cultural practice seems to be unfolding here: the taste for picturesque touring, a broadened social experience inherited from the once-dominating and exclusive practice of the Italian Grand Tour. This cultural phenomenon is personified by the figures appearing on the right in Sandby’s work. A drawing entitled “Lady Frances Scott and Lady Elliott”—dated 1780—in the Paul Mellon Collection (YCBA) reveals the identity of two of these women. Lady Scott, an amateur artist of some repute (she was known to Horace Walpole), can be seen sketching a view with the help of a camera obscura. The design of this optical device was of disarming simplicity: after entering through a small opening in front of the box, light would hit a mirror placed at an angle, projecting the image onto a glass surface on which was laid a sheet, allowing its user to draw the outlines. Known since antiquity and used by many artists (Sandby included), the camera obscura was extremely popular with amateur artists and travelers anxious to keep visual journals of their quests for local color in the countryside.

Stéphane Roy

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 256, no. 34, pl. 34, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)



In 1747 Paul Sandby followed his Brother Thomas in taking a position as draftsman with the Board of Ordinance. He was appointed chief draftsman for the Survey of the Highlands, ordered that autumn by the Duke of Cumberland in the aftermath of the Jacobite Rebellion. Apart from the summer of 1751, spent with his brother at Windsor, Paul remained in Scotland until the autumn of 1752, producing maps for the Survey but also sketching and etching the Scottish countryside and people.
While there is no concrete evidence that Paul Sandby ever returned to Scotland, this impressive Gouache of Roslin Castle suggests that he may have made an unrecorded trip in the 1770s. On the other hand, the view of Roslin may be a studio concoction intended as an appropriate landscape setting for the two fashionable Scottish ladies at the right and based on sketches made many years earlier. Sandby's concern seems less topographical than naturalistic. (Roslin Castle, the ostensible subject of this painting, is barely visible beyond the trees.) His interest is more engaged by the fall of light on the hillside, the rickety bridge across the River Esk, and the two ladies, one of whim is taking a view with a camera obscura. A sketch by Sandby of the ladies, also in the Yale Center for British Art, identifies them. The woman using the camera obscura is Lady Frances Scott, an amateur artist and poet who was the sister of the 3rd Duke of Buccleuch and the wife of Lord Douglas; her seated companion is Lady Elliot, either the sister or the wife of Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto.
Sandby eschewed the more consciously Picturesque view of Roslin Castle perched dramatically over the glen of the often adopted in other artists' depictions. He does, however allude to the vogue for Picturesque sketching in the landscape by showing Lady Scott with her camera obscura. This precursor to the modern camera admitted light through a small aperture, focusing an image on the back of its dark chamber. An angled mirror reflected the image onto a glass surface where it could be traced. The camera obscura was used as a drawing aid to drawing both amateurs such as Lady Scott and professional artists such as Thomas and William Daniell (see cats. 79-81).

Scott Wilcox

Wilcox, Forrester, O'Neil, Sloan. The Line of Beauty: British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century. Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 2001. pg. 162 cat. no. 138

Picturing Britain - Paul Sandby (1731-1809) - A Bicentenary Exhibition (Royal Academy of Arts, 2010-03-13 - 2010-06-13) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Picturing Britain - Paul Sandby (1731-1809) - A Bicentenary Exhibition (National Gallery of Scotland, 2009-11-07 - 2010-02-07) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Picturing Britain - Paul Sandby (1731-1809) - A Bicentenary Exhibition (Nottingham Castle Museum and Art Gallery, 2009-07-25 - 2009-10-18) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Royal Academy of Arts, 2007-10-20 - 2008-01-27) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Paul Mellon's Legacy : A Passion for British Art (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

An American's Passion for British Art - Paul Mellon's Legacy (Yale Center for British Art, 2007-04-18 - 2007-07-29) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Line of Beauty : British Drawings and Watercolors of the Eighteenth Century (Yale Center for British Art, 2001-05-19 - 2001-08-05) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Fairest Isle - The Appreciation of British Scenery 1750-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1989-04-12 - 1989-06-25) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

The Art of Paul Sandby (Yale Center for British Art, 1985-04-10 - 1985-06-23) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

English Landscape (Paul Mellon Collection) 1630-1850 (Yale Center for British Art, 1977-04-19 - 1977-07-17) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Mikael Ahlund, Landskapets roster, studier i Elias Martins bildvèarld , Atlantis, Stockholm, 2011, p. 81, Bild 34, NJ18 M3866352 A45 2011 (YCBA) [YCBA]

John Baskett, Paul Mellon's Legacy: a Passion for British Art: Masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, p. 256, no. 34, pl. 34, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

David Bindman, The History of British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2008, pp. 131-32 (v.2), fig. 79, N6761 +H57 2008 Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

British Art at Yale, Apollo, v.105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 271, N5220 M552 A7 1977 OVERSIZE (YCBA) Published as April 1977 issue of Apollo; all of the articles may also be found in bound Apollo Volume [N1 A54 105:2 +] [YCBA]

Stephen Daniels, Paul Sandby, picturing Britain , Royal Academy of Arts, London, 2009, cat. 70, NJ18 Sa56 P3 2009 + OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]

Paul Mellon's Legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels] , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v. 2, no. 34, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA) [YCBA]

Graham Reynolds, English Landscape 1630-1850, Apollo, vol.105, no. 182, April 1977, p. 271, N1 A54 105:2 + (YCBA) Another copy of this article may be found in a separately bound and catalogued copy of this issue located on the Mellon Shelf [call number : N5220 M552 A7 1977 + (YCBA)] [YCBA]

Christopher White, English landscape, 1630-1850, drawings, prints & books from the Paul Mellon Collection , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1977, pp. 25-26, no. 40, pl. IV, NC228 W45 OVERSIZE (YCBA) [YCBA]


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