Completed British 19th C, except portraits, Military History, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 9 Does this painting show Edinburgh Castle?

Topic: Subject or sitter

This is probably Edinburgh Castle – compare Patrick Nasmyth's 'Edinburgh Castle from the Southwest' (at University of Edinburgh).

The collection note:

'We have nothing on file regarding the scene that this painting shows or the artist responsible. Given the Scottish backgrounds of our Founders the proposed subject matter is very probable.

This work did not come the RCAGM collections until 2001 via the last Russell-Cotes grandchild and is part of the collection retained by the family following the death of our Founders and the establishment of the museum. We do not have our Founders' archive and therefore scant information as to how works were obtained. In the research compiled thus far there is no reference of a work matching this description.

Therefore it comes down to opinions about the building shown and the stages of Edinburgh Castle. As there are similarities we are happy for the painting to be retitled 'A Scottish Castle (possibly Edinburgh Castle)' or similar pending an expert on Edinburgh Castle commenting.'

Martin Hopkinson, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Jade Audrey King,

This discussion is now closed. The painting title was amended to 'Edinburgh Castle from the South West'.

Thank you to all who contributed to this discussion. Please see below the comments that led to this conclusion.


Bendor Grosvenor,

I'd say that's a hole in one - well done, great spot!

Evelyn Russell,

Not convinced it's Edinburgh, can't identify the large square building in background, but it does look as though it may have been painted from the north east. Stirling Castle frequently gets confused with Edinburgh in images. Need to do more investigating!

Guillaume Evrard,

Looks like Edinburgh Castle seen from the North East, somewhere towards the East End of Princes Street, with the Nor Loch in the foreground.

It is possible to make out the north parapet wall of the castle esplanade, with the silhouette of the castle entrance gate further back.

Maybe a view from the Collegiate Chapel of the Holy Trinity in Edinburgh.

David Taylor,

Definitely Edinburgh Castle from the south west, with Heriots and Arthur's Seat in the background.

Betty Elzea,

Looks as if there's a hole in it, too!

The very specific similarities between this and Nasmyth's depiction of the castle, its buildings, chimneys, curtain wall and the crags beneath surely confirm this as Edinburgh Castle from the south west. The background to the right is more muddled, the buildings appear to be a misunderstood equivalent of Nasmyth's depiction of those around the High Street (not Heriot's); the absence of St Giles' distinctive crown spire, visible in Nasmyth's, is also somewhat mysterious, but the Russell-Cotes painting appears to be a rather crude version by someone who was not sufficiently familiar with the topography. For me the details of the castle itself are sufficient to clinch it.

Jade Audrey King,

The collection has been contacted about this recommendation.

We will change the title to 'Edinburgh Castle from the South West' in our collections database. Woud Art UK like to do the same?