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Captain Horatio ROSS (Scottish, 1801-1886) "Fir trees on the banks of Dornochs Firth between Ardgay and Fearn", 1850s Waxed paper negative 27.9 x 35.2 cm

Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"Fir trees on the banks of Dornochs Firth between Ardgay and Fearn", 1850s
Waxed paper negative
27.9 x 35.2 cm

Near the top of Scotland, in the Highlands, cuts the Dornochs Firth (traditionally called the Firth of Tain).  The last major inlet on the east side of the country, at its entrance to the North Sea the waterway is fifteen miles wide.  It narrows rapidly towards the west, finally reaching Ardgay, the site of a 19th century cattle market, about fifteen miles inland. In 1853, Horatio Ross sold Rossie Castle, the house and estate inherited from his father, and took up residence in Gladfield House and Dibdale Lodge, both in Bonar Bridge, about a mile north of Ardgay.  

This view would have been within an easy ride of his residence. Why these particular fir trees intrigued Ross is unknown, but the pictorial composition is powerful, with the trees framing the distant view of the Firth.  He might have taken it from the north bank, nearest his home, but Fearn is on the south bank, so his title encourages the thought that it was taken from there.  If so, the general view that Ross took in this image was looking towards Skibo Castle, later the home of Andrew Carnegie (and more recently the site of Madonna’s wedding). The title is inscribed on a salt print in an album in a private collection. 

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Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"Fir trees on the banks of Dornochs Firth between Ardgay and Fearn"
Platinum print, printed after 1878
26.4 x 33.1 cm

 

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Captain Horatio ROSS (Scottish, 1801-1886) "From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857 Waxed paper negative 29.0 x 34.9 cm

Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857
Waxed paper negative
29.0 x 34.9 cm

The Meadows still presents an area of rural tranquility in the heart of Edinburgh.  Part of it was built on the South or Burgh Loch (the North Loch was between the Castle and the New Town).   Dammed in the 1550s in an unsuccessful attempt to improve its usefulness as a water supply, within a century it was so silted up that it was drained. In 1772, the Town Council leased part of it to Thomas Hope of Rankeillor, the Chairman of the Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland.  He laid out what became known as Hope Park, with walkways and lime trees, but gradually the 17th century name of The Meadows came back into use.  An act of Parliament made it a public park in 1827 but its natural drainage remained a problem even some years after Ross took this photograph. 

Sadly, although The Meadows are still in use as a park, this beautiful view of the Castle looming in the distance must be imagined today.  It was already threatened in Ross’ time, for although a lone cow can be seen grazing in the center, stakes betray preparations for building.  The short terrace pictured obliquely is now part of long blocks. The building with the swooping drive was Lauriston House.  In front of it now stands masses of buildings, especially the Eye Clinic of the Royal Infirmary. Just beyond Lauriston House stood the Cattlemarket.  In 1909 it was cleared for the imposing Edinburgh College of Art building.

In 1886, the International Exhibition of Industry, Art & Science was erected in The Meadows.  Among others, the pioneers of photography, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, were commemorated in this exhibition.

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Captain Horatio ROSS (Scottish, 1801-1886) "From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857 Albumen print from a waxed paper negative 25.5 x 33.8 cm mounted on 34.3 x 43.0 cm card Titled on mount

Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857
Albumen print from a waxed paper negative
25.5 x 33.8 cm mounted on 34.3 x 43.0 cm card
Titled on mount

 

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Captain Horatio ROSS (Scottish, 1801-1886) "Fir trees on the banks of Dornochs Firth between Ardgay and Fearn", 1850s Waxed paper negative 27.9 x 35.2 cm

Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"Fir trees on the banks of Dornochs Firth between Ardgay and Fearn", 1850s
Waxed paper negative
27.9 x 35.2 cm

Near the top of Scotland, in the Highlands, cuts the Dornochs Firth (traditionally called the Firth of Tain).  The last major inlet on the east side of the country, at its entrance to the North Sea the waterway is fifteen miles wide.  It narrows rapidly towards the west, finally reaching Ardgay, the site of a 19th century cattle market, about fifteen miles inland. In 1853, Horatio Ross sold Rossie Castle, the house and estate inherited from his father, and took up residence in Gladfield House and Dibdale Lodge, both in Bonar Bridge, about a mile north of Ardgay.  

This view would have been within an easy ride of his residence. Why these particular fir trees intrigued Ross is unknown, but the pictorial composition is powerful, with the trees framing the distant view of the Firth.  He might have taken it from the north bank, nearest his home, but Fearn is on the south bank, so his title encourages the thought that it was taken from there.  If so, the general view that Ross took in this image was looking towards Skibo Castle, later the home of Andrew Carnegie (and more recently the site of Madonna’s wedding). The title is inscribed on a salt print in an album in a private collection. 

Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"Fir trees on the banks of Dornochs Firth between Ardgay and Fearn"
Platinum print, printed after 1878
26.4 x 33.1 cm

 

Captain Horatio ROSS (Scottish, 1801-1886) "From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857 Waxed paper negative 29.0 x 34.9 cm

Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857
Waxed paper negative
29.0 x 34.9 cm

The Meadows still presents an area of rural tranquility in the heart of Edinburgh.  Part of it was built on the South or Burgh Loch (the North Loch was between the Castle and the New Town).   Dammed in the 1550s in an unsuccessful attempt to improve its usefulness as a water supply, within a century it was so silted up that it was drained. In 1772, the Town Council leased part of it to Thomas Hope of Rankeillor, the Chairman of the Society of Improvers in the Knowledge of Agriculture in Scotland.  He laid out what became known as Hope Park, with walkways and lime trees, but gradually the 17th century name of The Meadows came back into use.  An act of Parliament made it a public park in 1827 but its natural drainage remained a problem even some years after Ross took this photograph. 

Sadly, although The Meadows are still in use as a park, this beautiful view of the Castle looming in the distance must be imagined today.  It was already threatened in Ross’ time, for although a lone cow can be seen grazing in the center, stakes betray preparations for building.  The short terrace pictured obliquely is now part of long blocks. The building with the swooping drive was Lauriston House.  In front of it now stands masses of buildings, especially the Eye Clinic of the Royal Infirmary. Just beyond Lauriston House stood the Cattlemarket.  In 1909 it was cleared for the imposing Edinburgh College of Art building.

In 1886, the International Exhibition of Industry, Art & Science was erected in The Meadows.  Among others, the pioneers of photography, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce and Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, were commemorated in this exhibition.

Captain Horatio ROSS (Scottish, 1801-1886) "From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857 Albumen print from a waxed paper negative 25.5 x 33.8 cm mounted on 34.3 x 43.0 cm card Titled on mount

Captain Horatio Ross (Scottish, 1801-1886)
"From the Meadows, Edinburgh" Edinburgh Castle, April 1857
Albumen print from a waxed paper negative
25.5 x 33.8 cm mounted on 34.3 x 43.0 cm card
Titled on mount

 

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