© 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

Description

A watercolour view of Fort Augustus. The fort, partly ruined, is in the centre middle distance with the camp to the left. In the foreground, a group of officers to the left playing 'nine-holes' and a team of four horses hauling a gun towards the centre; in the distance, mountains and a loch winding to the sea. An ornamental cartouche below with battle scenes on each side of the title-space. Inscribed in pencil 'Fort Augustus' within the cartouche in a nineteenth century hand; and 'by Sandby' below, in a 'Colnaghi' hand (see also RCINs 914725 and 914727), a 'T' inserted later before 'Sandby'. On the verso is a price of £3 3s. which identifies it with 'A Drawing of a Camp by Sandby' bought by George, Prince of Wales (later George IV) from Colnaghi for that price on 20 June 1804.

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 forms a pair with 914725; a preparatory study drawing is 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 'minuteness of touch and detail' (Picturing Britain, p. 78), as well as the decorative cartouche below, suggest that the drawing is more likely to have been commemorative than a functional field drawing. Bonehill and Daniels have also pointed out the significance of the vignette in the foreground, with soldiers playing nine-holes explaining the rules to a confused-looking Highlander. The figures in the foreground of the pendant drawing 914725, which looks down on the ruins from further up the slope, are Jacobite prisoners being led away by Hanoverian soldiers, delayed by a pleading woman and child. 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 grey wash and watercolour on card'

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

Image Licence

Image Credit

© Royal Collection Trust

From the Watercolour World

Location

Fort Augustus, Scotland

Country