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

A Sketch of the Field of Battle at Culloden 1746

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From the Collection


A pencil, pen and ink and watercolour drawing of Sandby’s watercolour of the field of the Battle of Culloden, showing the view between the lines of troops and the charge of the Jacobites from the right. Figures with guns silhouetted in the foreground on a hillock. Inscribed on the ink-line bordered mount, 'A Sketch of the Field of Battle at Culloden by T Sandby 1746', and a pencil inscription explaining that 'Barrell's Regiment' is marked 'A'. Also inscribed on the drawing 'Duke of Cumberland', 'Kingston's Regiment' and 'Murray Firth'.

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). Sandby also travelled with the Duke's party to the Netherlands in 1747-8 during the final stages of the War of Austrian Succession.

This watercolour gives a vivid impression of the battle. The traditional charge, which had proved so successful at Prestonpans, was halted by fire from government cannon. These had been loaded with canisters which peppered the advancing soldiers with shot and halted the Jacobite advance, killing many of Prince Charles Edward’s men. Sandby has intentionally reversed the view, showing the battle from the north, but the landscape background (with the Moray Firth) from the south.

Descriptive Medium: 'Pencil, pen and ink and watercolour', 'pen and ink, watercolour, pencil'

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© Royal Collection Trust

From the Watercolour World


Culloden Battlefield, Inverness, Scotland