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Mrs. Siddons, engraved by William Holl the Younger after Sir Joshua Reynolds (1835)

From: Robert Chambers (ed.), A Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen (Glasgow: Blackie, 1835)

Sarah Siddons (née Kemble) was considered the finest tragedian and interpreter of Shakespeare of her age. Offstage, Scott found her 'a vain foolish woman spoild [sic] (and no wonder) by unbounded adulation to a degree that deserved praise tasted faint on her palate'. He doubted, however, that he would ever see another actress who came 'within a hundred degrees of what she was in her zenith' (letter to Joanna Baillie, 17 April 1819). He appealed to Mrs Siddons for support of the new patent for the Edinburgh Theatre that would put its management under the control of the Duke of Buccleuch, Walter Scott himself, and Henry Mackenzie, among others. Her son Henry Siddons was subsequently appointed manager. The original portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds was painted in 1784. The engraving by William Holl the Younger was first published in Knight's Portrait Gallery (1835).