About this artwork

This is one of the images which Burns included in a book, called 'Picturesque Bits from Old Edinburgh' and published in 1868. Although the photographs record the historic buildings of the Old Town, Burns wanted them to be a reminder of the 'pain in the present'; the squalid and overcrowded conditions in which the poor lived. There is nevertheless a lot of charm in this picture and, although, there are no figures in the street, it is clearly inhabited.

Archibald Burns

Archibald Burns

Archibald Burns was a professional photographer in Edinburgh, best known for his landscape and architectural images. He published an illustrated book in 1868, called 'Picturesque Bits from Old Edinburgh'. This was a photographic guide to the Old Town, which paid attention to social issues such as overcrowding and poor sanitation. Apart from being documentary, Burns's work is quite obviously picturesque. For an added nostalgic look, he often used salted paper which makes pictures appear old and faded.