This drawing shows how rural northern Edinburgh looked just before the building of its New Town in the late eighteenth century. The drawing dates from after the building of Gayfield House in 1765, which is the Dutch-gabled building on the extreme right. Small figures, possibly farm workers, make their way along the road in the foreground. They are only lightly suggested with dabs of wash. Echoing their presence is a flotilla of boats in the Firth of Forth, voyaging out to sea. Clerk rendered greater detail in these distant ships than in the foreground figures, reflecting his own interests in the sea, and the navy in particular. At this time, merchant ships were often accompanied by naval vessels for protection. In Clerk's convoy, the larger tall ship may be serving this purpose.