William Bell Scott

William Bell Scott was born into an artistic family in Edinburgh in 1811. His father Robert was an established engraver and his elder brother David was to become a painter. Scott attended part time classes at the Trustees Academy in Edinburgh, but the majority of his art training came from his father.
In 1834 Scott had his first painting exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy. A couple of years later he moved to London where he worked as an engraver and illustrator. During this time he made good contacts but his painting attracted only limited attention. In 1844 he left London for the north of England to take up an appointment as Head of Newcastle School of Art. 

He continued to make visits to London and in 1847 he met Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Holman Hunt. Scott and Rosetti became close friends and through Rossetti, Scott was introduced to other members of the Pre-Raphaelite group. Scott's own art reflects the Pre-Raphaelite style and values but he remained on the edges of this circle, apparently at times feeling himself something of an outsider. 

Returning from a tour of Europe in 1854 Scott was invited to create a series of paintings to decorate Wallington Hall in Northumberland for Sir Walter Trevalyan. The eight large highly detailed oil paintings he produced depict the history of the region and another series for the spandrils of the arches in the hall illustrate the ballad of Chevy Chase. 

It was during work on these paintings that Scott met Alice Boyd of Penkill Castle, Ayrshire, when she modelled for Grace Darling in the series. They became very close despite Scott being already married. Alice invited him to visit Penkill and asked him to paint a mural for the spiral staircase there. The watercolour sketches Scott did for the mural are in the collection at the Dick Institute. 

Even after the completion of the Penkill mural in 1869, Scott continued to stay periodically at the Castle. During these visits he and Alice would play host to various members of the Pre-Raphaelite group of artists including Rossetti and Lawrence Alma Tadema. Later, when his health began to fail him, Scott moved permanently to Penkill where he worked on his autobiography. His wife joined him there in 1889 and remained there until his death the following year. 

Scott enjoyed painting and writing at Penkill. He painted a number of landscapes around the castle grounds and the surrounding area and some consider him to have been more successful in these landscape works than he ever was with figure painting. 

His poetry was as important to Scott as his sketching and painting and he worked on it throughout his life. He published many of his poems as well as other writings, including several on the subject of art, amongst them, works entitled British School of Sculpture, Little Masters of Germany and Life and Work of Albert Durer. An edition of his "Poems" published in 1875 was illustrated by himself, with assistance from Lawrence Alma Tadema. They worked together on these prints during a visit Tadema made to Penkill in 1874. The first proofs of some of these works are in the collection at the Dick Institute. 
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