About this artwork

Heriot’s Hospital appears as a faint but imposing silhouette at the centre of this watercolour, seen from West Bow (now part of Victoria Street) at the eastern end of the Grassmarket. The hospital was a charitable institution founded in 1628 for the benefit of orphans whose fathers were freemen of Edinburgh. It is now George Heriot’s School. Turner contrasts the grand architectural backdrop of the hospital with the narrow tenements and hectic activity in the foreground. The figures are shown in great detail, with street traders setting out their goods, dogs roaming and a group heaving a coal cart uphill.

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  • title: Heriot's Hospital, Edinburgh
  • accession number: D 5447
  • artist: Joseph Mallord William TurnerEnglish (1775 - 1851)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: About 1819
  • measurements: 16.60 x 25.00 cm
  • credit line: Purchased by Private Treaty via Christie's with support by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner

Turner transformed the art of landscape painting in Britain. From detailed topographical studies to expansive, atmospheric vistas his works celebrate the diversity and emotive power of nature. He was born in Covent Garden, the son of a barber, and exhibited his earliest sketches in his father's shop before studying at the Royal Academy Schools. Turner became the youngest ever full member of the Royal Academy in 1802. His experimental use of watercolour and oils achieved stunning effects, attracting contemporary criticism and praise. Turner's admiration of past masters, above all Claude Lorraine, and the numerous sketches made on many tours in Britain and abroad, provided the basis for his 'sublime' land and seascapes.