Skip to main content

Pen and ink sketches of William Stewart Watson, whilst on tour in Rome in 1840

Identifier: Coll-1432

Scope and Contents

Folio album of original pen and ink sketches compiled by the artist while on a tour of Rome in 1840. The album contains over 250 mounted drawings executed on tracing paper and these vary in size from a few inches square to full and half-page preparatory sketches for paintings.

Contemporary half vellum, marbled boards. Signed Stewart Wilson, Rome 1840, on inner cover, above which is mounted the main section of the title page for the sale catalogue, March 1887, of the 'Collection of Engravings, Prints, Original Drawings, etc., formed by the late James T. Gibson-Craig, Esq., 24 York Place, Edinburgh'. Also pasted in is the section in the sale catalogue noting Wilson's album as Lot 414, and Lots 409-413 being albums by Allan Ramsay, David Allan, Patrick Gibson, John Clerk, and H.W. Williams.

Sketches include topographical and architectural details, studies and copies made from works of art, sculpture, and armour, character studies from life, and also drawings of interior groupings of figures. Watson may well have used these when composing his historical paintings.


  • Creation: 1840


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Open to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance of visit.

Biographical / Historical

William Stewart Watson was born in 1800 and died in Edinburgh in 1870. Watson is said to have practised for some years in America, but he was in Rome in 1840 and in London between 1843 and 1847, after which he settled in Edinburgh where he remained for the rest of his life. The artist's favourite subjects were portraits and history paintings. In addition to painting, Stewart Watson often used other techniques and materials such as ink, watercolour, chalk and charcoal. He is also known as a miniature painter. His pictures Joseph Grant, WS, Seated at a Desk , George Gordon, 6th Lord Byron (1823), Don Quixote Tilting at a Windmill (before 1832), Holyrood Dairy, Edinburgh (c. 1840), and The Inauguration of Robert Burns as Poet Laureate of the Lodge (1846) are in the Signet Library, Edinburgh City Art Collection, and the National Galleries of Scotland.


1 volume

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased May 2012. Accession no: E2012.62

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie 15 January 2013

Pen and ink sketches of William Stewart Watson (1800-1870), whilst on tour in Rome in 1840
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379