Walter Scott


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Abbotsford Miniature: A Disputed Portrait of Scott

Following his betrothal to Charlotte Carpenter or Charpentier (see Williamina, Charlotte and Marriage), Scott sent his fiancée a miniature portrait of himself, with a covering letter dated 24 October 1797. In his Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., Lockhart identified an anonymous miniature at Abbotsford as the portrait in question but considered it 'not a good work of art' (IX, 259). It depicts a young man in scarlet and blue military uniform, measures 1½ x 1¼ cm, and is encased in a frame of blue enamel and gold, with a lock of light brown hair inserted behind.

Francis Russell, however, in his Portraits of Sir Walter Scott, argues that 'it is difficult to see how this can ever have been accepted as a likeness of Scott' (p. 95). Quite apart from the lack of physical resemblance, the uniform is datable to the 1780s and is not that of the Edinburgh Light Dragoons, the only regiment with which Scott served. Russell suggests that the portrait may depict one of Scott's brothers.

Photogravure of disputed miniature portrait of Scott

The image portrayed on this page is a photogravure or photo-engraving of the disputed Abbotsford miniature prepared for The Scott Gallery (1903), a collection of portraits of Scott, his family, friends, and contemporaries, and of historical figures portrayed in his work. Photo-engraving involved transferring a photographic negative of a drawing, painting, or object to a metal plate, and then etching it in.


  • Caw, James. L. The Scott Gallery: A Series of One Hundred and Forty-Six Photogravures, Together with Descriptive Letterpress (Edinburgh; London: T.C. & E.C. Jack, 1903)
  • Johnson, Edgar. Sir Walter Scott: The Great Unknown (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1970)
  • Lockhart, J. G. Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott, Bart., 2nd edn (Edinburgh: R. Cadell, 1839)
  • Russell, Francis. Portraits of Sir Walter Scott: A Study of Romantic Portraiture (London: The Author, 1987)

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Last updated: 09-Nov-2004
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