© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved
© Royal Collection Trust | Licence: All Rights Reserved

Fort Augustus c. 1746

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From the Collection


A watercolour view of Fort Augustus, with the ruined fort in centre and Hanoverian military encampment to left. A team of four horses hauling a gun towards the centre, and soldiers playing nine-holes. In the distance, mountains and a loch winding to the sea. Inscribed on the verso, possibly in Sandby's hand: Fort Augustus or Loch Ness, and in a Colnaghi-style hand: Fort Augustus or Loch Ness by Sandby. A price in the corner, £1.11.6 identifies the sheet as 'A Drawing of a View of Fort Augustus by Sandby' bought by George IV when Prince of Wales for that price from Colnaghi on 1 January 1802.

Thomas Sandby trained as a military draughtsman at the Board of Ordnance, and worked for three years at their drawing room in Edinburgh before entering the employ of William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland during his campaign to defeat the Jacobites, concluding with the Battle of Culloden in 1746. An apocryphal anecdote first recorded by the critic John Williams suggests that it was Sandby who 'conveyed the intelligence of the [landing of the Young Pretender] to the Government in the year 1745' (see J. Bonehill and S. Daniels (eds), Paul Sandby: Picturing Britain, exh. cat., Royal Academy etc 2009, p. 78).

Fort Augustus was built by General Wade after the Jacobite Uprising of 1715, who named it after the Duke. The fort was briefly captured by the Jacobites in March 1746, shortly before the Battle of Culloden. The present drawing is a preparatory study for 914724, which forms a pair with 914723. This drawing shows the settlement after the Jacobite defeat, looking down on the ruined fort and the tents set up by the Hanoverian soldiers. The set of drawings are more likely to be commemorative than functional field drawings. Bonehill and Daniels have pointed out the significance of the vignette in the foreground, with Jacobite prisoners being led away by Hanoverian soldiers, delayed by a pleading woman and child. The figures in the foreground of the pendant drawing 914724, which looks down on the ruins from further down the slope, are soldiers playing nine-holes explaining the rules to a confused-looking Highlander. These vignettes caricature the Jacobite enemy as both comically stupid, and neglecting their domestic responsibilities in pursit of a futile cause (Picturing Britain, p. 79). Bonehill and Daniels also note that the drawings were probably intended to be engraved as a pair of prints, and the figures are probably attributed to Thomas's younger brother, Paul Sandby, or were copied from his drawings. The two onlookers in the left-hand corner appear in a print by Paul Sandby of the 'South West View of Fort William' in his set of Scottish views of 1751.

Descriptive Medium: 'Pen and ink and watercolour', 'pen and ink, watercolour'

Additional Makers: Attributed to Paul Sandby (1731-1809) (artist)

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© Royal Collection Trust

From the Watercolour World


Fort Augustus, Scotland