William Daniell began his career travelling extensively in India with his uncle and tutor, Thomas Daniell (1749-1840). Of the great European artists working in the subcontinent, it was undoubtedly the Daniells who played a pre-eminent role in recording and documenting the country for European eyes. Arriving back in London in 1794, the Daniells embarked on a grand project, a series of one hundred and forty four aquatints entitled Oriental Scenery which introduced to the public in Britain an unrivalled view of the scenery and architecture of this exotic land. After studying at Royal Academy Schools in 1799, William Daniell soon turned his attention to British scenery and between 1814 and 1825 produced unaided the celebrated series of engravings, 'A Voyage round Great Britain'. Two engravings of Dunrobin were produced in the course of this voyage and Daniell describes his impressions of the castle in the accompanying text:
'The situation of the castle is singularly striking and beautiful. Standing on the edge of the wooded glen, upon a knoll of considerable height, and so steep as to be almost perpendicular, it seems to spring like a fairy palace from the bosom of the ocean' (W. Daniell, A Voyage round Great Britain, Vol. V, London, 1821, pp. 24-26).
Dunrobin Castle is the most northerly of Scotland's great houses and looks out over Dornoch Firth towards the grey expanse of the North Sea. The castle dates in part from the early fourteenth century when it is first mentioned as a stronghold of the ancient Earls of Sutherland. In 1785, Elizabeth Sutherland, Countess of Sutherland in her own right, married George Granville Leveson-Gower, who later inherited the Bridgewater estates of his uncle, the last Duke of Bridgewater, and the estates and title of his father, the Marquis of Stafford. After 1812, Lord Stafford spent a large portion of his wealth improving the infrastructure of Sutherlandshire (which at that time had few roads and but one bridge) including erecting the pier visible in the present pictures. This pair of views are an important record of the appearance of Dunrobin Castle in the early decades of the nineteenth century, as after the death of Lord Stafford in 1833, his son commissioned Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament, to transform Dunrobin from a traditional Scottish castle into a vast palace in the French style.