#FridayPainting: Thomas Faed “Sir Walter Scott and his friends at Abbotsford”

When I view the painting, “Sir Walter Scott and His Friends at Abbotsford” by Thomas Faed, I try to imagine the discussion. It seems that Sir Walter Scott is reading from one of his novels to a group of friends eager to hear what comes next. Some lean forward, while others sit back in contemplation.

Sir Walter Scott and His Friends at Abbotsford by Thomas Faed Scottish National Galleries

We come to know writers through their stories, and find our connection to them via words, plots, characters and themes. And yet, we do not have a full understanding of their life, which is demonstrated by Thomas Faed’s paintings. Who was Sir Walter Scott? Who were his friends? How did he spend his days when he was not writing?

This painting prompted an exploration into the life of Sir Walter Scott. My search was brilliantly rewarded when I found Sir Walter Scott’s Journal on Gutenberg.org. Here is the beginning of Sir Walter Scott’s Journal.

In his words:

“ I have all my life regretted that I did not keep a regular Journal. I have myself lost recollection of much that was interesting, and I have deprived my family and the public of some curious information, by not carrying this resolution into effect. I have bethought me, on seeing lately some volumes of Byron’s notes, that he probably had hit upon the right way of keeping such a memorandum-book, by throwing aside all pretence to regularity and order, and marking down events just as they occurred to recollection. I will try this plan; and behold I have a handsome locked volume, such as might serve for a lady’s album.” Sir Walter Scott’s Journal (Gutenberg.org)

Who were these friends in Thomas Faed’s painting? According to the Edinburgh University Library: Sir Walter Scott’s friends are portrayed from left to right are listed as follows:

Seated: Thomas Thomson, James Ballantyne, Archibald Constable, Thomas Campbell, Tom Moore, Sir Adam Fergusson, Francis Jeffrey, William Wordsworth, John Gibson Lockhart, George Crabbe, Henry Mackenzie, Scott, and (on footstool) James Hogg.

Standing: Sir Humphrey Davy, Sir David Wilkie, Sir William Allan, Prof. John Wilson.

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

13 thoughts on “#FridayPainting: Thomas Faed “Sir Walter Scott and his friends at Abbotsford”

  1. Thank you for the photo. The “book’ he is reading from looks like it has been read many times before! The painting is just like a photo, which makes me wonder if it was painted while looking at a photo.(I believe there were primitive cameras at that time.) The expressions on each of the faces are so natural which makes me think it was taken from a photo! I appreciated that the author regretted that he did not keep a written account of the happenings in his life. I can relate to that because there are so many interesting details in my life that I can not remember to relate to my family or friends. Ans this happened in Abbotsford! ! !

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Amazing painting…and with the names… splendid.

    Hogg? I wonder if he is an early relative of Michael Lindsay-Hogg, the director. I read he didn’t know who is father was. https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0512327/
    He offered me a costume design position on a movie about John Lennon, and Paul McCartney. I dd not take it.
    Anyway, how common is Hogg?
    Just a wild and crazy thought! {{hugs}}

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Isn’t it interesting how we come to think of writers in their solitary moments of writing. When I see Sir Walter Scott surrounded by his friends he becomes “real” to me. I can imagine the wonderful feeling of friendship and goodwill that energizes the room.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating! I wonder how the painting was done. I seriously doubt that it could have been painted from life, with all eighteen men coming together to hold those positions for however long it took to complete the paintings. This question of how paintings of groups were done in the days before photography has never occurred to me before!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I had the same question, Liz. And I found the answer to be as follows:

      “Click on the thumbnail to see a photograph of ‘Sir Walter Scott and His Literary Friends at Abbotsford’ by Thomas Faed. It was painted in 1849 working from existing portraits of Scott and his contemporaries.”

      http://www.walterscott.lib.ed.ac.uk/portraits.html

      I remember reading somewhere (can’t remember where!!) that the painting “Declaration of Independence” by John Trumbull was taken from likenesses. Now that is an interesting story that I must follow up on!!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. HI Liz and Rebecca, thank you for the question and the answer. I have never actually asked myself this question but I always thought the artists would have painted a work like this from portraits and etchings of the various people.

        Liked by 2 people

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