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Sir Walter Scott at Shakespeare's tomb


Sir Walter Scott at Shakespeare's Tomb, c.1828

Oil on canvas

Attributed variously to Sir William Allan, Benjamin Haydon, and David Roberts

This large painting commemorates Scott's second visit to Stratford-upon-Avon in 1828 though it was probably painted slightly later. Scott, a very successful novelist and poet in his own lifetime, was an admirer of Shakespeare often including references to Shakespeare's work in his own writing. He recorded this visit in his journal, writing 'we visited the tomb of the mighty wizzard. It is in the bad taste of James Ist’s reign but what a magic does the locality possess. There are stately monuments of forgotten families but when you have seen Shakespeare what care we for the rest? All around is Shakespeare(‘s) exclusive property.'

The painting evokes a tranquil moment with one writer quietly contemplating another. Scott had been presented with a cast of the bust in Holy Trinity Church by the sculptor George Bullock. He wrote to a friend, 'Now I have only to arrange a proper shrine for the Bard of Avon since you have fitted him with an altar worthy of himself'. He even got Bullock to take a life cast of his own head so that he could compare his physiognomy with Shakespeare’s and souvenirs produced in the 19th century often pair the two authors' likenesses.

Purchased and gifted by Friends of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 1969.

  • Measurements

  • Width

    0.84 metres

  • Height

    1.08 metres

  • Credit line

    CC-BY-NC-ND Image Courtesy of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust