Alexander Dyce 1810
This is a fascinating collection of early Scottish drawings of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and the surrounding areas. Dating from 1810 to 1816, the collection comprises pen and ink, watercolour and graphite drawings recording early views such as Calton Hill and the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, and King’s College and the Bridge of Dee in Aberdeen, as well as castles and manor houses of East Lothian and Aberdeenshire, some of which have now been destroyed or transformed through restoration.
The collection is accompanied by a separate piece of paper printed with the name and date “Alex Dyce. 1810”. The drawings, nearly all from the hand of Dyce (one of which is signed), have an early, naïve charm, and were evidently penned by a lively and inquisitive mind. Many are on watermarked Charles Wilmott 1808 wove paper.
It seems likely that this could be Reverend Alexander Dyce (1798-1869). Dyce was a literary scholar and art collector, who bequeathed his vast library and collection of art to the South Kensington Museums (now Victoria and Albert Museum).
Born in Edinburgh, Dyce was the son of a lieutenant general in the East India Company. Whilst his parents were in India, Alexander was raised by aunts in Aberdeen. He read classics at Exeter College, Oxford, graduating in 1819. Dyce was ordained in 1823 at the insistence of his father, and thereafter became a curate at Lantegloss, in Cornwall, and subsequently at Nayland, in Suffolk. He went on to become an important literary scholar, translating Greek texts and also 16th and 17th century poetry, including important Shakespeare editions. His library collection includes many rare books and his drawing collection focuses on Old Master drawings from European schools.
This collection of drawings by Dyce would have been done in his early youth, when he was residing in the Edinburgh and Aberdeen areas. The collection also includes studies of classical sculpture and ancient marbles, evidencing an early interest in classics. There is one watercolour of Cornwall by a different hand, possibly acquired by Dyce during his later time in Cornwall.
The album from which the drawings derive is also inscribed “Sidney Newman 1953”. This provenance suggests the drawings were in the possession of Professor Sidney Newman CBE (1906-1971), a prominent Scotsman who was Reid Professor of Music and Dean of the Faculty of Music at the University of Edinburgh (1941-1970).