Paul Sandby executed a number of watercolours and aquatints of Caernarvon Castle in the 1770s but the romantic presence of a harpist seems only to have been introduced in his treatments of the 1790s. According to the Hon. John Byng, later Viscount Torrington, in his diary of a tour in North Wales in 1783, there was a renowned harper in Caernarvon called Erasmus. Writing of Conway he added that 'a harper to be compleat shou'd be blind' and Sandby seems here to be following this fashion; he may even have transferred the presence of the famous blind harper John Smith from Conway, where he was depicted by Julius Caesar Ibbetson in a watercolour of a year later, 1796, sold at Christie's London, 2 April 1996, lot 32, illustrated. Turner was to develop this fashion in his large watercolour exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1800.