Painting of Musselburgh Golf Course Makes £82,250 at Edinburgh Auction

An early 19th century watercolour showing two boys playing golf on the Old Links of Musselburgh, where the game has been played continuously for 550 years, made £85,250 at Bonhams 19th and 20th Century Pictures and Prints sale in Edinburgh on 8 December. It had been estimated at between £20,000-30,000.


William Douglas (British, 1780-1832) Two boys with golf clubs and a dog on Old Musselburgh Links signed and dated ‘W. Douglas/1809’ (lower right) watercolour 33.5 x 41 cm. (13 3/16 x 16 1/8 in.)

The Old Links of Musselburgh six miles east of Edinburgh, is the oldest operational golf course on earth and is one of three contenders for the original ground on which the game of golf began to be played in Scotland, probably in the mid-14th century.

The painting, by William Douglas was executed in 1809 and is among the oldest known depictions of the game. It shows features of the course still seen today. In the middle distance is the great sand bunker, still known as Pandemonium. Also visible is the public house now known as Mrs Forman’s, where golfers paused to slake their thirst. Behind the boys are the Prestonpans potteries, the village of Aberlady, the promontory of Kilspindie and Gullane Hill, while in the background the distinctive conical shape of Berwick Law is clearly seen.

Head of Pictures at Bonhams, Scotland, Chris Brickley said, “This picture provides a rare and important insight into the origins of the modern game and I am not surprised that it was so keenly sought after and made such a good price.”

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