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Illustration to 'Tam O'Shanter' by Robert Burns. Study for an Engraving

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Illustration to 'Tam O'Shanter' by Robert Burns. Study for an Engraving

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This drawing illustrates a verse from Burns’s epic Poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’ that recounts the events after a night spent drinking and Tam’s journey home. Here, Faed shows the scene where Tam has been watching the evil spirits dancing in the ruins of old Alloway Kirk. He cannot contain himself and shouts to one of the young witches "Weel done, Cutty-sark". This mistake made the gathering of spirits abandon their dance and all fled out to chase Tam and his horse Meg: "And scarcely had he Maggie rallied, / When out the hellish legion sallied". This drawing was engraved and published in an illustrated edition of Burns’s work.

Glossary Open


The printmaking technique in which an image is inscribed on a copper plate with a tool that cuts a groove in the surface. This groove holds the ink that creates the print when it is applied to paper. Also refers to the method of making an incision on a material such as glass.



  • Acc. No. D 2588
  • Medium Brush, dark brown wash and white heightening on paper
  • Size 6.40 x 8.50 cm
  • Credit William Findlay Watson Bequest 1881