About this artwork

This charming watercolour shows students having a snowball fight outside the main entrance to Edinburgh University. Established by King James VI in 1583, Edinburgh University is the sixth oldest in Britain. In 1789 Robert Adam supplied designs for a splendid new building with a grand central courtyard, but lack of finances and the architect’s death resulted in a series of delays. The University was eventually completed in 1833 to modified designs supplied by William Henry Playfair. On the left, the entrance to the University, with its great portico framed by six large columns, was the most dominant feature of Adam’s original design. Bough has added subtle white highlights throughout to suggest the fine dusting of snow on the buildings.

Samuel Bough

Samuel Bough

Although born in England, Bough became one of the most influential figures in the development of nineteenth-century Scottish landscape painting. A largely self-taught artist, he spent the early part of his career in Manchester and Glasgow painting scenes for theatrical sets. Bough later dedicated himself to landscape painting, and became adept at illustrating the fleeting effects of weather. This is especially clear in his paintings of Cadzow Forest in South Lanarkshire. He settled in Edinburgh in 1855, and was elected a member of the Royal Scottish Academy the following year. Bough enjoyed tremendous popularity as an artist. His views of rivers and ports of the 1850s and 1860s show his masterful combination of realism and expressive colouring to capture natural effects.

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