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Firth of Forth

'Royal George'

Leith Harbour

Painting by Thomas Buttersworth

Painting

1.

Royal Visit to Edinburgh

The yacht 'Royal George' leaving Greenwich, London for Edinburgh

The Royal George departs Greenwich, London for its journey to Leith Harbour, Edinbrgh  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to  David Munge, Kent, England

Painting

2.

Royal Visit to Edinburgh

The yacht 'Royal George' arriving at Leith Harbour, Edinburgh

The Royal George in the Firth of Forth at Leith  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

  Reproduced with acknowledgement to  Bryan Oliphant, New York, New York, USA

 

'Royal George'

Leaving Greenwich. London

Two Paintings

Painting

2.

Arriving in Edinburgh

    The Royal George in the Firth of Forth at Leith  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

A copy of Painting No.2 above, The Royal George arriving in Edinburgh was sent to me by Bryan Oliphant, New York, in February 2006.

Bryan asked 4 questions about it.  See below.  If you have any further information or comments about this photo, please e-mail me, then I'll update this page and pass on your message to Bryan.  Thank you.

Painting

1.

Leaving London

    The Royal George departs Greenwich, London for its journey to Leith Harbour, Edinbrgh  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

In September 2013, about 7 years after I added Painting No.2 above to the EdinPhoto web site, I received an email from David Munge, with a photo of his Painting No.1,  The Royal George leaving Greenwich, London for its journey to Edinburgh.

David wrote:

"Here is a photo of my water colour painting of 'The Royal George' leaving Greenwich in August 1822.

As you know this was the start of his journey to Leith where Butterworth painted your Pinting No. 2."

David Munge, Kent, England:  September 2, 2013

David subsequently wrote:

"I bought my painting in a local auction.  It's nice to have owned a bit of history, but I intend to sell it in an auction in October 2013.

There is no signature on my painting.  It's not in great condition, being on paper, but I've had it stabilized and put back in its frame.

The painting looks quite naive in its conception, but it is a record of what took place.  By the way, I think the steam tug in my picture is the James Watt, a very early steam paddle tug.

King George IV was embarked at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and my painting shows the yacht being towed past the college

As you know this was the start of his journey to Leith where Butterworth painted your Pinting No. 2.  I saw the Butterworth at Christies a couple of months ago and it's clearly a much better painting.

David Munge, Kent, England:  September 8, 2013 (3 emails)

 

Painting

2.

    The Royal George in the Firth of Forth at Leith  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

Bryan wrote:

Question 1.

Which Royal Visit?

I know that George IV visited Edinburgh in august of 1822, and that Queen Victoria repeated the Royal progress by landing at Granton Pier on 1 September 1842. both sovereigns arrived aboard 'The Royal George'.

However, this was the first and last time Queen Victoria travelled aboard the 1817 vessel.  The 'Royal George' was mothballed after the trip.  I'm sure you know that Queen Victoria sailed back to Woolwich aboard a General Steam Navigation vessel.  I suppose she didn't like the tow up.

It certainly makes sense that Butterworth would have portrayed Queen Victoria's visit rather that the visit of George IV as her visit was the biggest news of the year during the fall of 1842.

Buttersworth was a businessman and he painted what was 'hot'.  The Royal progress of 1842 was a hot as it gets.

Bryan Oliphant, New York, New York, USA:  February 22, 2006

 

Bryan:  You mention that Queen Victoria's visit would have been the biggest news of the year in 1842.  But the visit of George IV was also a major event as can be seen by this account of his account of his arrival in Edinburgh in 1822.

He is still commemorated today by George IV Bridge. Edinburgh Central Library stands on one side of the bridge and the National Library of Scotland stands on the other side of the bridge.

There is also a statue to George IV at the junction of George Street and Hanover Street, erected in 1831.  Carved in large letters on the stone plinth are the words: 'GEORGE IV VISITED SCOTLAND MDCCCXXII'.  (For a short period a few years ago, this was followed by 'Bully for him' in spray paint.)

1822

Thomas Buttersworth (1768-1842) painted the arrival of George IV at Leith in 1822.  A painting of this visit by Butterworth (oil on canvas 42cm x 67cm) was purchased from Sotheby's for the City of Edinburgh Art Collection on 14 March 1990.  It is the only painting by Thomas Buttersworth in the City of Edinburgh Art collection.

Illustrations of  Butterworth paintings of the 1822 visit can be found on:
  -  the Go Antiques web site.
  -  the Bellrock web site.

The sea in the painting on the 'Go Antiques' web site also looks very similar to that on Bryan's painting.

In the painting on the 'Bellrock' web site, the Royal Yacht can be seen in the background, under tow passing the Martello Tower, looking very similar to the Royal Yacht under tow in the Bryan Oliphant's painting.   

This suggests to me that Bryan's painting is of the 1822 visit to Edinburgh.

Incidentally some artistic licence seems to have been taken with the background.  On Bryan's painting it appears to be the island of Inchkeith to the SW which seems reasonable.  In the other two scenes it appears to be the skyline of Edinburgh!

1842

However, it is interesting to read on this page of the Go Antiques web site that Thomas Buttersworth also painted Queen Victoria's visit to Edinburgh in 1842.

 

Painting

2.

    The Royal George in the Firth of Forth at Leith  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

Bryan wrote:

Question 2.

Who was the Painter?

I feel that if the picture depicts Queen Victoria's visit in 1842, James Edward Butterworth would have painted the picture, or at least had a hand in most of it as his father, Thomas Buttersworth, died in November 1842.  

Bryan Oliphant, New York, New York, USA:  February 22, 2006

There are several sites on the Internet that list the paintings of Thomas Buttersworth and his son James Edward Butterworth, but I have not found any that attribute the 1842 painting to the latter.

I don't know how active Thomas Butterworth was in the months before his death.

 

Painting

2.

    The Royal George in the Firth of Forth at Leith  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

Bryan wrote:

Question 3.

What was the Towing Vessel?

The 'Royal George is shown in the painting being towed by a three-masted paddle steamer. The account in the Illustrated London News has the 'Royal George' being towed up the Firth and coming into the sight of spectators at about 7am and then proceeded up to Granton Pier where Queen Victoria debarked at about 9am.

The weather was cloudy and overcast, but cleared as she stepped ashore.  Some said at the time that this was a metaphor for her Reign.

I know from your site that steam navigation commenced out of edinburgh in 1821, but i don't think the vessels would have been big enough or strong enough to tow the royal george to edinburgh. 

Bryan Oliphant, New York, New York, USA:  February 22, 2006

Here is an account of the arrival of King George IV in Leith, taken from The Scotsman newspaper, 17 August 1822. 

The account makes it clear that the vessel towing the 'Royal George' as it approached Leith Harbour was the steam-packet 'James Watt' .

 

Painting

2.

    The Royal George in the Firth of Forth at Leith  -  Royal Visit to Edinurgh of either King George IV in 1822 or Queen Victoria in 1842.

Bryan wrote:

Question 4.

Where was the Ship?

Was there a Martello Tower in the water at that time.  One is depicted between 'Royal George' and the towing vessel.

This would establish locale beyond a shadow of doubt. but to complicate things a bit, i suspect that Buttersworth took dramatic liberties with space and time to enhance the narrative quality of the painting. 

Bryan Oliphant, New York, New York, USA:  February 22, 2006

Martello Tower

Bryan:  As you suspected, the Martello tower is the clue.  There was a Martello Tower, built to the north of Leith Harbour in 1809.  The harbour has since expanded and the tower is now half-buried in the eastern breakwater.  You can see it on the aerial photo below. Please click on the photo to enlarge it.

Leith Docks

  Aerial view of Leith Docks  -  2001  -  and key

Here is another painting with the  the Martello Tower, or the 'Telly Tower' as it was known, in the background..  This painting is based on a Jerome photograph from the mid-1930s.

Martello Tower

  Painting by Frank Forsgard Manclark, 'The Leith Artist'   -   Leith Sands and the Martello Tower

Pier and Background

The pier on the right in the Buttersworth painting may be Leith West Pier.  The position where the pier used to be has been marked on the 2001 aerial view of Leith Docks, above. I would need to do a little more investigation to see if that is what West Pier looked like.

The island in the background of the Buttersworth painting will be Inchkeith, in the Firth of Forth, north-east of Leith.

 

Further Comments

Further Comments from Bryan Oliphant

Thank you to Bryan Oliphant, owner of the painting at the top of this page, for sending further comments to me on the Buttersworth paintings above.

 

More Photos:  Firth of Forth

More Photos:   Around Edinburgh

 

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EdinPhoto - Home Page      Please send me an e-mail ...  with your questions, comments, suggestions or news.      At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.            At any time, you can search for a word  -  perhaps a photographer's name or a photographic topic.  The search will produce a list of pages on the EdinPhoto web site where this word appears.

Photographs and Other Images  -  These include portraits of photographers  -  photographic outings -  Princes Street views  -  Newhaven Fishwives  -  etc.  Early Photography in Edinburgh  -  Talbot, Brewster, Hill & Adamson, Early Professional Photographers in Princes Street, etc.  Professional Photographers in Edinburgh  -  1840 to 1940  -  Their names, dates of business and studio addresses.  The Photographic Society of Scotland  -  1856 to 1873  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, etc.  The History of Edinburgh Photographic Society  -  1861 to date  -  Lectures, Exhibitions, Outings, Poems, etc.  EPS Publications - EPS Handwritten Records  -  Photographic Journals  -  Trade Directories  -  Books  -  etc.  Thanks to all who have encouraged and supported me in creating the EdinPhoto web site  -  including descendants of photogrpahers  -  researchers  -  providers of photographs and other material  Background notes on the research thal led up to the creation of this site  -   together with lists of new material added to the site since its launch.  Brief comments on how this site might be used  -  Just browsing?  -  Seeking specific information?  Please add your questions, suggestions or other comments to the Guest Book.  Links to other web sites  -  Photographic Societies  -  Photographic History  -  Family History  -  etc.  Click here to find the link to the Edinburgh Photogrpahic Society web site.  Details of who owns the copyright of photographs and other mateiral on this web site.

A selection of my photographs, many from Edinburgh throughout the year.   Also photos from Scotland, London, Iceland, Italy, Hong Kong and elsewhere    Many old maps of Edinburgh (Old Town, New Town, while City), Leith and Newhaven.  Includes several old transport maps and a comparison of old maps with recent aerial photos.   Old engravings, mailly of Edinburgh scenes.  Some from the 1820s, some from the 1890s,  some others - includes many hand-coloured examples from the 1820s.   News from Edinburgh today  -  Events, Collections, Buildings and Gardens, Transport   This site includes     1. Post card portraits taken in studios in Edinburgh:    2. Post card views either takeen/published by Ediburgh photographers or views of Edinburgh, or both.y Edinburgh    Views of Edinburgh, grouped into three sections:     1. Street views:    2. Buildings:    3. Around Edinburgh   Views of transport around Edinburgh  -  Horse drawn trams and buses, cable cars, electric trams, buses and a few railway photos.  Also several maps of Edinburgh's bus and tram routes.   Summary of the updates added to this site each month since the site was launched   Frequently Asked Questions

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