In the early 19th century, Continental artists and writers became fascinated with the history and the landscape of Scotland, partly under the spell of Sir Walter Scott’s novels. Daguerre, who was trained as a stage designer in Paris, specialised in painting dioramas – realistically-painted sets representing scenes viewed through an aperture, where the light could be altered to create different weather effects. This painting combines the illusionism and theatricality of the diorama with the Romanticism of the moonlit ruin. In its concern with the effects of light, it also anticipates the artist’s pioneering work in photography with his invention of the daguerreotype process.


  • Title: The Ruins of Holyrood Chapel
  • Creator: Louis Daguerre
  • Date Created: About 1824
  • tag / style: Louis Daguerre; Romanticism; ruins; Gothic; chapel; Holyrood; towering; spooky
  • Physical Dimensions: w2565 x h2110 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre is perhaps best known for his contribution to the history of photography. He invented the first photographic process, the daguerrotype in 1839. Daguerre was apprenticed to an architect at the age of 16 whilst training as a draughtsman. He also worked in the studio of the stage designer for the Paris Opera, Ignace-Eugene-Marie Degotti, as well as assisting Pierre Prévost in designing panorama paintings for public entertainment.
  • Additional artwork information: This painting was the subject of an ‘Artwork Highlight’ talk at the Walker Art Gallery in 2002. To read the notes from this talk please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/picture-of-month/displaypicture.asp?venue=2&id=12
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Presented by Arnold Baruchson in 1864

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