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John le Conte


Le Conte


John Le Conte (1816-1887) was born in Britain of French ancestry.  He had a brief career as a professional photographer (1860-1863) in the middle of a much longer career as an engraver. 


Le Conte

1861 Census

In 1861, John le Conte [age 43, engraver, b. Edinburgh] was living at 32 Frederick Street, a studio address that he moved away from later in the year.  He was living with:

-  Catherine Morrison le Conte [engraver's wife, age 41,  b. Forres, Morayshire]

-  John Nicholas le Conte [son, scholar, age 11, b. Edinburgh]

-  Ann le Conte  [daughter, scholar, age 10, b. Edinburgh]

-  Jessie Reid Le C  [daughter, scholar, age 5, b. Edinburgh]

-  Robertina Grant le Conte  [daughter, age 4,  b. Edinburgh]

-  Catherine le Conte  [daughter, age 2, b. Edinburgh]


Le Conte

Painter and Engraver

John Le Conte was a stipple, mezzotint and line engraver.  He produced engravings for the annual publications of the Fine Arts Association of Scotland.

[John C Guy: BOEC, Vol 9

He worked for James Scott, engraver at 65 Princes Street from around 1830.   He set up his own engraving business from 1845 until at least 1870.

He was also listed in the 1868 trade directory as “Figure & Animal Painter”.

Edinburgh Public Library has over thirty water colours and engravings by John Le Cont.  Subjects include West Bow, Craigmillar Castle and the Earthen Mound, Edinburgh.  Some are dated from1833 to 1873;  others are undated.

In 1979, the City Art Centre staged an exhibition of Le Conte’s watercolours and ink drawings from the 1860s to the 1880s, recognising him as being one of the most successful engravers in Scotland in the third quarter of the 19th century.


Le Conte's

Views from the Scott Monument

John Le Conte sketched four views from the top of the  Scots Monument in Princes Street in the early 1840s - looking to the North, South, East and West. 

The view to the North looked out over James Howie's rooftop studio at 49 Princes Street.


Le Conte


Please e-mail me if you can help to answer the question below, sent to me by Margaret Robertson of Canada, on behalf of somebody who lives in Kelty, Fife, Scotland

Margaret wrote:

Engraved Picture of a Ploughman

"My  friend   has an engraved  picture of a ploughman  ploughing a field with a mouse in the furrow .  This  work  is signed by  John le Conte. 

It also has  the  name  Robert  Burns  beside  the  signature .  I  realise Robbie  was  dead  before  John  le  Conte  was  born. 

Can  you  tell me  anything  about  this work .  I  have  tried  google  and  only  found  out   more about  the artist."

Margaret Robertson, Nr. Toronto, Ontario, Canada:  March 22, 2007.



John McMurtrie

Kintore, Inverurie Aberdeenshire

John McMurtrie, Aberdeenshire, replied:

Engraved Picture of a Ploughman

"I too have an unframed print of the ploughman uncovering a mouse in the furrow. Engraved by John Le Conte, printed by A McGlashon, published Sept 1861 by William H Vannan, Edinburgh. It bears a reproduction handwritten note "your oblidged humble servt. Robert Burns"

Can you tell me anything about this print?"

John McMurtrie, Kintore, Inverurie Aberdeenshire:  January 11, 2008




Peter Stubbs


To a Mouse

I am not familiar with your picture, but it sounds as if it may be an illustration of Burns' poem 'To a Mouse'.  The poem begins:

"Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!

Burns wrote this poem after disturbing a nest of field mice while ploughing on a November day.

Peter Stubbs:  January 11, 2008




Catherine Hunter

Robert Burns

Thank you to Catherine J Hunter who wrote:

"I also have some Le Conte  engravings.

I have an original leather bound book of the Burns' poem 'Cotters Saturday Night' with 14 Le Conte illustrations."

Catherine J Hunter:  June 7, 2010


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