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In 1932, William Wilson won the Royal Scottish Academy Carnegie Travelling Scholarship. As a result, he took leave from his employer – the stained glass manufacturer, James Ballantine – to study full-time at Edinburgh College of Art and travel to Spain and Italy. In Spain, he produced views of Madrid, Toledo and Segovia (in Castille), and Granada and Ronda (in Andalucia).
The present drawing of Segovia was made from a hill – then outside the city – that provides a magnificent panoramic view that centres on the late Gothic cathedral dedicated to the Virgin Mary. To the left is the tower of the earlier, Romanesque church of San Andrés, while beyond that, and excluded from this drawing,
is the royal palace known as the Alcázar. Wilson produced a separate drawing of the Alcázar, which, in 1935, won the Guthrie Award, presented by the Royal Scottish Academy.
In 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the Republicans were thwarted by the air power of the Nationalists in their attempt to occupy Segovia. The attempt, known as the ‘Segovia Offensive’, was described by Ernest Hemingway in his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940).