William H. Lizars

Eight Engravings of the Ruins Occassioned by the Great Fires in Edinburgh on the 15th, 16th and 17th of November 1824
William W. Lizars, 1824



William Home Lizars (1788-1859) was a painter and engraver. He was active in the founding of the RSA, but resigned as an Associate in 1830 before being elected as an Honorary Member in 1834. He is best known for his work on John James Audubon’s amazing Birds of America, published in Edinburgh in 1827.


Three years before this momentous occasion, on the 15th of November, a fire had broken out in (as circumstance would have it) the engraving workshop of James Kirkwood. The fire spread quickly and ravaged the Old Town until it was brought under control by heavy rain on the 19th of November. 


The RSA’s future Secretary, David Octavius Hill, was one of many artists who sketched the damage. His compatriot Lizars published this series of commemorative engravings after sketches made by William Turner, of London, for the benefit of the sufferers of the fire, which claimed the lives of thirteen people, including two firemen.