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Paul Sandby RA, 1731–1809, British

Roslin Castle, Midlothian

ca. 1780
Gouache on medium laid paper, mounted on board
Sheet: 18 1/8 x 25 1/8 inches (46 x 63.8 cm) and Mount: 18 1/8 x 15 1/8 inches (46 x 38.4 cm)

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:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
amateur | artist | bridge (built work) | camera obscura | castle | children | clouds | hats | hills | landscape | light | picturesque | poet | river | Scottish | shepherd | trees | women
Associated Places:
Esk | Europe | Midlothian | Roslin | Roslin Castle | Scotland | United Kingdom
Accessible by request in the Study Room [Request]
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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.

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

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)

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 +]

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

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)

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