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Ernest Stephen Lumsden

1883 - 1948

The Saut Buckets (Edinburgh) by Ernest Stephen Lumsden

The Saut Buckets (Edinburgh)   1926

  Original drypoint.
Signed and inscribed in pencil.
Lumsden 302 ii/viii
S 392 x 296 mm; P & I  353 x 239 mm
Oridginal E.S. Lumsden drypoint.

Lumsden’s greatest printed work.

Trial proof 'B'. The unique impression printed in the second state of the plate.
Inscribed in pencil by E.S. Lumsden "TR B", "1 only" and lettered "B" at the lower right corner of the sheet.

Exceptional impression with the fresh drypoint burr printing with a rich clarity not found in impressions from the normal edition. Lumsden printed a total of only 7 trial proofs (this being the unique proof in the second state) before printing the normal numbered edition of 60 impressions (the artist declared all impressions from the fifth to the eighth states to be part of the edition and numbered them as such).

In this early working state, the sign for the 'Drysalters', suppliers of the 'saut buckets', reads clearly and the corner of their building is visible - the plate was reduced in width in subsequent states and this section of the building removed. In this state many of the windows to the left are still light, the pavement at the left and the foreground steps have not yet been completed; smoke has yet to be added to the chimneys and much extra shading has yet to be introduced throughout. The plate is prior to the artist's drypoint signature and date in this state. Here, we see the artist's drypoint work in its freshest and most spontaneous form.

E.S.Lumsden’s greatest printed work, The Saut Buckets depicts St. Ninian’s Row, near the top of Leith Walk in Edinburgh.

Ernest Stephen Lumsden was a Scot by descent and adoption, though not by birth, and he made Edinburgh his home town, teaching at Edinburgh College of Art from 1908 until 1912. Long before he began his extensive travels to India and beyond, E.S.Lumsden had established himself as one of the rising stars of the Etching Revival through highly accomplished works of his local Scottish landscape. However, it was upon his return from his travels, with many years of etching experience behind him, that he created his masterwork, The Saut Buckets – one of the most powerful images ever made of the streets of Edinburgh.

This powerful work depicts the claustrophobic tenements of Edinburgh, with men loading salt containers (saut buckets) onto a horse-drawn cart in the foreground. A masterpiece of drypoint technique, every tiny part of this plate shows some beautifully observed detail. Just to the right of the cart, with only a few strokes of the drypoint needle, Lumsden has given the impression of two small girls, one bending to stroke a dog; at the left of the image, a man stands in a doorway, a cat nearby on the pavement. Every reflection, and every varied tone of the buildings’ façades is captured with extraordinary ingenuity. In all, The Saut Buckets is a truly exceptional drypoint work.

On cream laid paper with full margins and deckle edge. Very fine original condition.