About this artwork

Sir Walter Scott was a renowned poet and novelist who achieved major success during his lifetime. His interest in writing historical novels, and particularly those with Scottish themes such as ‘Waverley’, has had a major influence on the perception of Scotland. Scott famously organised King George IV’s 1822 visit to Edinburgh which helped to re-brand Scotland’s image and led to a revival of tartan and kilts. This work was painted at Abbotsford, Scott’s home in the borders, for Lady Ruthven (1789-1895). It depicts him the year before his death. Following a number of strokes, Scott appears distinctly older and more fatigued than in earlier portraits. Seated in his study, he is almost certainly writing the fourth series of ‘Tales of my Landlord’.

Sir Francis Grant

Sir Francis Grant

By the time he was 26 years old, Francis Grant had spent his father’s inheritance of £10,000 on fox hunting and collecting paintings, and was in desperate need of a career. He decided to become an artist, and, despite having no formal training, he made rapid progress by copying old masterpieces lent to him by friends and family. At the time, it was remarkable and somewhat scandalous for a member of a landed family to become a professional portrait painter. His background did, however, give Grant easy access to fashionable Victorian society and portrait commissions. Although still a great lover of hunting, Grant’s success was huge and his output prolific: between 1831 and his death in 1878, approximately 800 paintings are recorded.