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On the Quay at Leith

Reference URL

On the Quay at Leith

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Although best known today for his contribution to photography, David Octavius Hill was a genre and landscape painter. In this oil painting we glimpse Leith, which was Scotland's main port until the 19th century, and the official port of Edinburgh. Leith dealt in grain, flax, sugar, timber, iron, paper and whisky, the profits from which filled the Edinburgh coffers. The painting explores different kinds of light caused by the low sun, falling directly onto the buildings in the background and filtered through the ships' sails. Note the beggars in the foreground with the little animated wooden figures.

Glossary Open


A French term that denotes different types of paintings, such as landscape, portrait or still life. The phrase ‘genre painting’ is used specifically to describe works depicting everyday scenes.



  • Acc. No. NG 210
  • Medium Oil on panel
  • Size 30.00 x 35.60 cm (framed: 52.20 x 57.00 x 8.50 cm)
  • Credit Purchased by the RI 1826; transferred 1859