About this artwork

This photograph was taken in Rosslyn Chapel, a fifteenth-century church in the village of Roslin, to the south of Edinburgh. Famous for its Masonic architecture and symbolism, and its possible connections to Freemasonry, the chapel has even been suggested as the resting place of the Holy Grail. Its roof is supported by thirteen columns, the most famous of which is the Apprentice Pillar. Legend has it that it was carved by a young apprentice whilst the master mason was away researching the design of the pillar. On his return the mason, who did not expect to find it finished so beautifully, killed the apprentice in a fit of jealousy. The design is said to be inspired by Norse legend and shows eight dragons at the base of the pillar from whose mouths spring vines that wind around the pillar.

William Donaldson Clark

William Donaldson Clark

William Donaldson Clark was a wealthy cotton cloth printer who used his knowledge of chemistry in his practice as an amateur photographer. He employed the dry collodion process which made outdoor work more practical. Although it required exposure times of up to a quarter of an hour, the technique resulted in subtle effects of light and dark. Clark worked with the landscape painter, Horatio McCulloch, and his own landscape photographs have a similar sophistication. They include some remarkable views of Edinburgh. He died in 1873 when he fell from the top of a tram car travelling from Newington into the city.