About this artwork

Scott has set the Nativity in a picturesque tumbledown barn near Penkill Castle. He recorded the variety of natural and man-made textures and materials as faithfully as possible, allowing the barn's perspective to draw attention to the Holy Family. Angels watch from the rafters, as shepherds arrive to pay their respects. The procession of the Magi approaches at the right. Scott had painted murals in Penkill Castle, the family home of his intimate friend, Alice Boyd, whom he had met in Newcastle. This painting was in her extensive private collection.

William Bell Scott

William Bell Scott

Scott's detailed and highly coloured paintings of historical, religious and contemporary themes reflect the ideas and concerns he shared with his Pre-Raphaelite friends, in particular, Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Scott and his brother, David, trained at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh and worked for their father, an engraver, before launching their own careers as painters. Scott's association with the Pre-Raphaelite movement followed his move to London in 1837. He was then appointed Master of the Government School of Design in Newcastle in 1843. Scott painted his famous murals, including 'Iron and Coal', a scene of contemporary industrial life, in Wallington Hall.