John Le Conte

(1816 Edinburgh - 1877 Edinburgh)


Le Conte is best known for his watercolours and engravings of the buildings of old Edinburgh. He was a prolific artist, and his work provides an important historical account of how Edinburgh looked in the middle of the nineteenth century, before many of its structures were demolished to make way for new buildings. Le Conte watercolours are spontaneous, using light and quick brushstrokes, which convey the sense of bustling street life

During the 1830s, he was employed in the workshop of the engraver Robert Scott at 65 Princes Street, and in 1845 he set up his own engraving business which functioned until at least 1870’s. In Trade Directory of 1868 he is mentioned as ‘Figure and Animal Painter’.

His work is in the collections of the Edinburgh City Library (over 30 watercolours and engravings), National Galleries of Scotland and Victoria & Albert Museum. City Art Centre in Edinburgh 1979 staged an exhibition of Le Conte’s watercolours and ink drawings from the 1870s to the 1880s, recognising him as one of the most successful engravers in Scotland in the third quarter of the 19th century.

Edinburgh Castle from the Grassmarket | 1896 | watercolour 37x26cm