This is a fine antique Scottish etching by the artist, Sir John Clerk of Edin (1728 - 1812); the seventh son of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik. He not only an artist - but also an author and parliamentarian.
He developed close friendships with the architect Robert Adam (he married Adam's sister Susannah) and also with the English artist, Paul Sandby who was in Scotland working for the Board of Ordnance making maps for the military. The three artists often went out on drawing trips together.
Clerk was encouraged by his friends to take up etching and he had an early and important place within the history of Scottish printmaking. He was one of the few eighteenth-century Scottish etchers and his landscape etchings also serve as important documentary records of many of Scotland's historical buildings.
His etchings were not made as "modern editions" but were printed to order from his etching plates and sold on request from the shop of a specialist print seller on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.
This larger-sized etching by Eldin has the title "Craigmillar Castle" and the date 1777 lightly inscribed in the bottom margin to the left-hand side. It is also signed with initials "JC" and the date 1776 in the plate to the bottom left of the image.
It is a lovely impression with crisp black lines and a pronounced platemark, as photographed. It is a fine, clean print and no condition issues - and is sold in a simple black coloured frame.
It shows a view of the ruins of Craigmillar Castle, just outside of Edinburgh from the South East. The Castle is one of the best-preserved medieval castles in Scotland. It is best known for its association with Mary, Queen of Scots. Following an illness after the birth of her son, the future James VI, Mary arrived at Craigmillar on 20 November 1566 to convalesce.
The castle is seen through trees to each side of the composition and Eldin has included two little figures in the foreground to give an idea of the impressive size of the battlements behind. This is one of Eldin's finest and most resolved of Eldin's etched views - and this is reflected in my asking price.
The image is 16 x 25 cm. The frame size is 33 x 45 cm.
On Clerk of Eldin’s death in 1812, the collection of prints and plates were retained by his family, In 1825, with the help of his son, John Clerk, then Lord Eldin, the Bannatyne Club of Edinburgh issued a volume of etching called 'Etchings, Chiefly Views of Scotland by John Clerk of Eldin'.
This publication contained twenty-six views. In 1855, the Bannatyne Club published another issue, this time with seventy-six etchings, as additional plates had been discovered at Eldin. It is understood that The Bannatyne Club then destroyed the plates, their quality by then having seriously deteriorated.
Many thanks to Geoffrey Bertram for much of the information contained in my description.
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