About this artwork

Frantic activity is to be observed in this picture, one of the many Wilson produced in the 1880s and 1890s as a record of the fishing industry in Scotland. Herring was caught at night between late July and mid-September up to fifty miles off the eastern coastline. During the day the simple but sturdy boats were tightly packed in the harbour, while the fish, which goes off easily, was rapidly gutted and packed with salt in barrels. This is what a group of female workers is doing in the lower left corner of the picture.

George Washington Wilson

George Washington Wilson

A hugely successful businessman, George Washington Wilson had left home at twelve to be a carpenter and subsequently trained as a portrait painter before turning to photography in 1853. By the 1860s he owned printing works in Aberdeen that produced thousands of prints with views from all over Britain every year. Later his catalogue grew to include pictures from the Continent and the rest of the world. One of his first clients was Prince Albert who asked him to photograph the rebuilding of Balmoral Castle. Queen Victoria continued to commission work from Wilson after her husband's death.