This portrait of Sir Walter Scott was once in the collection of Mrs Mary Anne Hughes (née Watts; c.1770-1853) of Uffington, Oxfordshire (formerly within Berkshire), who wrote 'Letters and Recollections of Sir Walter Scott' (published in 1904).
In 1828 Mary’s husband, Reverend Dr Thomas Hughes, Canon of St Paul’s and Vicar of Uffington, purchased the portrait from the artist, Colvin Smith. Thomas then commissioned a further version from the artist, to present to Dr Copleston, Bishop of Llandaff.
Smith’s earliest version of the work was also painted in 1828, commissioned by Lord Chief-Commissioner William Adam.
Colvin Smith, portrait painter, was born in Brechin in Forfarshire, Scotland, the son of a merchant, manufacturer and magistrate. He studied at the Royal Academy Schools, London, from 1816 before travelling to Italy. He returned to Scotland in 1827 and set himself up as a portrait painter in Edinburgh, in the former studio of Sir Henry Raeburn. Smith is best known for painting around 20 portraits of Sir Walter Scott. The first, dating from 1828, was painted for the politician and advocate William Adam. Following this, many of Scott’s friends requested their own version. Smith achieved considerable success by following the tradition of earlier, celebrated Scottish portraitists including Raeburn. He died at his home in Edinburgh aged 79.
Purchased from the artist by Reverend Thomas Hughes (1756-1832) of Uffington, Berkshire (now Oxfordshire); by descent to Mrs Guy Salusbury Hughes of Offley Place, Hertfordshire; by whom sold through Sotheby’s, London, ‘Eighteenth Century and Modern Drawings and Paintings’ sale, on 20 March 1957 (Lot 121); from which sale purchased by Richard Walker on behalf of the Ministry of Works
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