Walter Scott


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Andrew Geddes's Portrait of Sir Walter Scott (1818)

In 1818, Andrew Geddes painted a remarkably penetrating likeness of Scott. The quarter-length oil portrait, measuring 21½ by 16½ inches, depicts the writer almost in full face looking downwards. Originally purchased by the collector Sir James Stuart, 7th Baronet of Allanbank, the picture now hangs in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Click on the thumbnail, right, to see a photogravure of the original painting.

The 1818 portrait began life as a study for Geddes's The Discovery of the Regalia of Scotland, where Scott was to figure among the Commissioners charged with unearthing the Regalia. Scott does not mention the sitting in his correspondence, and no other record of it appears to exist. It must, however, have taken place between 4 February 1818, the date of the discovery of the regalia, and the beginning of 1819 when Scott fell seriously ill. The portrait suggests that Scott's health is already deteriorating.

Corson B.CAW.1

In 1823, Geddes made a drawing from the portrait, also held by the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, so that it could be engraved by F.C. Lewis. Edinburgh University Library does not hold a copy of Lewis's engraving (1824), but see below for subsequent engravings by Thomas Woolnoth and John Hawkesworth (1825) and W. Read (1828).

Corson P.4270
Click on the thumbnails to see full-size images of engravings of Geddes's portrait of Scott by Thomas Woolnoth and John Hawkesworth (left) and William Read (right).


  • Russell, Francis. Portraits of Sir Walter Scott: A Study of Romantic Portraiture (London: The Author, 1987)

In addition to the above sources, this page draws on unpublished research by James C. Corson, who discovered the engravings by Woolnoth and Hawkesworth and William Read, which Russell does not mention

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Last updated: 12-Sept-2005
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