Advent Calendar – Door 19: The entrance of Rosslyn Chapel

Rosslyn Chapel, litograph by T. Picken after D. Roberts
from: J. P. Lawson, Scotland Delineated in a Series of Views by Clarkson Stanfield,
London 1847-1854; Corson Collection, University of Edinburgh (CC BY)

This is the title page of Scotland Delineated, a series of coloured litographs depicting Scotland’s architectural and landscape treasures, published in four volumes in 1847-1854. In a way, this first image of the collection shows a condensed vision of motifs typically associated with Scotland: A group of armed men – two of them wearing kilts – are standing before a simple country lass at the entrance of a medieval church. The richly decorated Gothic building is of course Rosslyn Chapel, just outside of Edinburgh, now perhaps best known for its appearance in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code and the movie based on it. But the chapel was already known for its literary connections back in the days when the litograph was made: It is featured in several of Sir Walter Scott’s works, among them his famous Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805). Indeed, the Romantic group of figures in the litograph makes it almost seem like an illustration to one of Scott’s stories. This is certainly no coincidence. More than any other writer of his era – with the possible exception of Robert Burns – Scott had shaped the public image of his home country. 19th-century audiences therefore expected Scotland to look as picturesque and Gothic as something out of a novel by Scott, and that’s exactly what the makers of Scotland Delineated delivered.

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1 Response to Advent Calendar – Door 19: The entrance of Rosslyn Chapel

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