About this artwork

Studies of local industry such as this drawing of an open-air mill (used in the cleaning and thickening of wool cloth), are evidence of Sandby’s keen interest in mechanical technology and in attempts to improve the use of the land. As a subject, such processes were considered by him as worthy as traditional landscape views. The introduction of mechanised technology to rural ways of life improved local economies, which in turn benefitted local families. This is clear in this drawing where Sandby shows a respectable working family in the foreground. When compared with Sandby’s scenes of indolent city dwellers, it would seem that Sandby’s admiration lay with the productive rural workers.

  • title: Fulling Mill, Fife
  • accession number: D 136
  • artist: Paul SandbyEnglish (1731 - 1809)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • subject: Industry
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: About 1750
  • measurements: 16.50 x 30.50 cm
  • credit line: David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910

Paul Sandby

Paul Sandby

Sandby is best known for his topographical and picturesque landscapes in watercolour. He probably learned drawing from his brother Thomas, and like him became a military draughtsman for the Board of Ordnance at the Tower of London. In 1747 Sandby was appointed chief draughtsman to the Military Survey in Scotland, established in the wake of the Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Based in Edinburgh, where he taught Robert Adam drawing, he travelled throughout the country producing detailed maps for the army and painting both topographical and picturesque views. In 1768 he became a founder member of the Royal Academy, London.