One of the lots that led our 2021 Scottish Works of Art auction, this important pistol is tantalisingly connected to a pair of pistols by the same maker which are still within the collection of Sir Walter Scott and on display at Abbotsford
This pistol seems to be tantalisingly connected to a pair of pistols by the same maker which are still within the collection of Sir Walter Scott and on display at Abbotsford. The pistols on display are not only by the same maker but bare a similar armorial engraving. More remarkably the pistols are recorded in correspondence between Scott and McLeod being commissioned by him for King George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822.
Scott’s personal interest in Scottish history and life is well recorded and his collection of historical arms and armour is famous, much of which still decorates his remarkable Borders home, Abbotsford.
Sir Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh’s Old Town of Edinburgh in 1771. His father was a successful lawyer, his mother the daughter of a Professor of Medicine at Edinburgh University. After suffering polio in 1773, was sent to his grandfather's farm at Sandyknowe in Roxburghshire, living here until 1775, and listening to stories from his grandfather and others, the young Scott developed his life-long love of Border history and folklore.
On returning to Edinburgh, he attended the High School and Edinburgh University. In 1792, he became an Advocate, and was appointed Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire in 1799. This allowed him to travel across Scotland in search of history and material to use in his poetry and fiction, eventually publishing his monumental Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders in 1802.
It was in the Borders that Scott was happiest. It was there that he wrote the great epic poems The Lay of the Last Minstrel, Marmion and Lady of the Lake between 1804 and 1810. With his fame, fortune and family growing, Scott turned to creating Abbotsford, which was completed in 1824.
Sir Walter Scott is one of the most successful authors of all time and is the second-most quoted writer in the Oxford English Dictionary after William Shakespeare. Scott’s creativity, wit and understanding of human nature remain on display in his works, but it is only through visiting Abbotsford that one can truly understand the man himself.
Perhaps the culmination of his fame and influence was as the organiser of the Royal visit to Edinburgh of King George IV. This not only impacted early 19th century Scotland but had a long lasting affect bringing back into fashion the wearing of full highland dress, broad swords dirks and highland belt pistols of the type offered here.
Held once a year, every August, our specialist auction that showcases the cross section of the arts of the Jacobite period that played such an important role within the movement; from the traditional portraits, miniatures, fine silver, antique arms and rare manuscripts to the romantic and provoking relics of the rebellion and people within.