The Grassmarket in Edinburgh provides a splendid backdrop for Drummond's theatrical portrayal of events described in Sir Walter Scott's novel, the 'Heart of Midlothian'. Drummond concentrated on one dramatic moment: the lynching of Captain Porteous of the Edinburgh City Guard in 1736. Porteous, however, depicted in red and spreadeagled on the shoulders of his executioners in the middle distance, is of secondary importance in the composition. Precedence is given to a variety of incidents and colourful characters in the foreground. The Royal Association for the Promotion of the Fine Arts in Scotland bought the painting in 1856.