John Clerk of Eldin (1728-1812) was one of the many polymaths of Scotland’s Age of Enlightenment. He is best known for the landscape etchings he made between 1771 and 1778 , and as author of An Essay on Naval Tactics (privately published in 1782). A third aspect is as illustrator for James Hutton’s seminal book Theory of the Earth in which Hutton (1726-1797), regarded as the founder of modern geological thought, expounded radically different concepts of geological time than had been understood previously.

Clerk and Hutton had been friends since their days at Edinburgh University. Clerk’s artistic abilities were well known to Hutton, and so it is unsurprising that he asked Clerk for assistance in providing the illustrations for his book. In order to get first-hand knowledge of the selected sites, Clerk undertook several journeys with Hutton, travelling to Glen Tilt (1785), Galloway (1786), Jedburgh (1787) and Arran (1788).

The drawings that Clerk executed in these journeys around Scotland were intended specifically for the last volumes of Theory of the Earth. The first two parts were published in 1795 while last two volumes for which the drawings were intended were not ready for publication before Hutton’s death in 1797. For whatever reason Clerk’s drawings were never used and dropped out of sight until being rediscovered in 1968.

 

The drawings are highly accurate in their technical detail, and beautifully executed in pencil, pen and various types of wash. They have a delicacy and clarity which is rarely seen in his picturesque drawings, understandable perhaps in that they were intended to be engraved.

To mark the rediscovery of the drawings a book James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth: The Lost Drawings was published by Scottish Academic Press in 1978, accompanied by a portfolio of carefully printed facsimiles which are of exact size and sensitively capture the colour of the original drawings.

I have a limited quantity of these facsimiles for purchase singly, in groups or as the complete set of 27. I can offer discounts for purchasing five prints or more:  5 – 10 prints 10%; 10 – 20 prints 20% ; over 20 prints 30%. The complete set is at the SPECIAL PRICE of £250. If you wish to purchase a group please contact me at geoffrey@bertram-arts.com to order and have the discount applied. Quoted prices exclude postage – packages will be sent by post at the most economic rate. Availability is on a first come first serve basis. Please be aware that the book and facsimiles are not available elsewhere.  

I also have a limited number of copies of the book James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth: The Lost Drawings. This is now rare.. Price is £90 (+postage). Text is by G.Y.Craig, D.B.McIntyre and C.D.Waterston. Published by Scottish Academic Press in association with the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Geological Society of London, 1978.

NOTE 1 The three prints of the triptych of Salisbury Crags are NOT available separately. The three prints count as ONE purchase.

NOTE 2 These are unframed facsimiles (reproductions) and not original prints. I do not usually sell reproductive prints but I am making an exception in this instance as I am a great supporter of John Clerk of Eldin.

NOTE 3 If you are ordering the entire set, please note that unfortunately the original folder in which they were first published is not available.

Further information about John Clerk of Eldin – his life, his etchings and his drawings –  can be found at www.clerkofeldin.com where you can also find my book The Etchings of John Clerk of Eldin. For the duration of this Focus Feature I am making my book available at the discounted price of  £25 (incl p&p – reduced from £35). Please email me to order your copy.

James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth: The Lost Drawings
James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth: The Lost Drawings

  James Hutton's Theory of the Earth: the Lost Drawings  Edited by G Y Craig with texts by G Y Craig, D B McIntyre, and W D Waterston. Published by Scottish Academic Press in association with the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Geological Society of...

read more
James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth: The Lost Drawings
James Hutton’s Theory of the Earth: The Lost Drawings

  James Hutton's Theory of the Earth: the Lost Drawings  Edited by G Y Craig with texts by G Y Craig, D B McIntyre, and W D Waterston. Published by Scottish Academic Press in association with the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Geological Society of...

read more