Lot 14: WILLIAM BELL SCOTT 1811-1890
Victorian & Edwardian Pictures
December 13, 2005
London, United Kingdom
PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN
THE FIRTH OF CLYDE FROM PENKILL CASTLE
48 by 33 cm., 19 by 13 in.
signed with monogram l.r. inscribed and an old label attached to the backboard: The Firth of Cylde, from/ Penkill Castle./ Painted by W.m Bell Scott/ 92 Cheyne Walk. Chelsea
watercolour with bodycolour
William Bell Scott met his future pupil and mistress Alice Boyd in Newcastle in March 1859 when he was drawing master at the local government school. He first visited the ancestral home she shared with her brother Spencer Boyd in July 1860. In 1865, following the death of Spencer, Alice became laird of Penkill, the romantic castle perched on a promontory overlooking the Penwhapple burn five miles from Girvan in Ayrshire. Boyd, Scott and his wife divided their time between Penkill and the Scott's London home. The haven which the Scotts found at Penkill has been described as a 'relaxed atmosphere of art and animals, whisky, friends and endless talk' (Country Life, 21 March 1991, p. 118). Other members of the Pre-Raphaelite group spent time at Penkill and it was here that Rossetti found some solace in his most bleak moments of melancholia. His sister Christina delighted in the views of Ailsa Craig and the Clyde (visible in the present watercolour) from the window in her turret bedroom and Alma-Tadema showered every morning in the freezing torrents of the Penwhapple waterfall.
A large watercolour by Bell Scott depicts the Boyds standing on the same battlements which appear in the present watercolour and looking out across the Clyde towards Ailsa Craig (Christie's, 15 December 1992, lot 170). Another view of the Clyde from Penkill is in the collection of Yale Center for British Art.