Sir David Scott - The rarest George Baxter print of them all?
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1) The Mezzotint by George Baxter of Sir David Scott 2) A Close up of the text below the print, to the right is 'Engraved by G Baxter Charterhouse Square London' 3) The original painting by J Parez - all images courtesy of “The Royal Pavilion and Museums Brighton & Hove”
In Courtney Lewis’ “The Picture Printer” of 1924 Plate 50 shows an image of Sir David Scott described as “an uncoloured and very rare mezzotint by Baxter”. Within the text CL makes a brief reference to it saying that this print had gone through the auction 1-2 years earlier. This is the first and only reference to this print I have ever found, no subsequent book on Baxter appears to make any mention of it.
The image always intrigued me, who he was? Why is it so rare? Also why is it no one appears to have researched this in the last 100 years?
My own research started some 15 years ago but never really got that far. I started down the route of who was Sir David Scott and why Baxter would have produced a print of him. In a Baxter Society Journal Courtney Lewis says that he owned this print at the time he exhibited it in June 1922 and described it as the only known copy.
I can’t find the print listed in the auction sale catalogue of CL’s collection in 1931/2 but as there are a number of lots described as a group of pulls, for example, it could have easily been mixed up with these. It turns up again (or of course it could be another copy) being sold on 21st October 1937 for 20/- (£1) in fine condition (but marked in my old auction catalogue as “unsold I believe”) at Puttick & Simpson being the sale of the collection of C W Greenhill. An interesting sale which included a pair of Chubbs and a glass case containing the replicas of 8 of Baxter’s medals that used to be on display in George Baxter Jr’s shop window in Australia giving this collection a great amount of credence? – I wonder what happened to the medals.
So who was Sir David Scott – Knight of the order of the Guelphs of Hanover? Initially I thought that should be straightforward but there seems to be a number of possible ‘Sir David Scotts’ and mainly in Scotland. In the most recent research attempt I came across an obituary column in the Illustrated London News for 12th July 1851 – Sir David Scott Bart. R.H. who died age 67 at his home in Gloucester Place (London). He was the only son of the Late David Scott of Dunninald county Forfar M.P. and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the East India Company.
He had succeeded to the title of Baronet on the decease of Sir James Sibbald of Sellwood Park 1819. This gentleman had died without having an heir and the title then passed to his wife’s Nephew, Sir David. He was MP for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight for a short while. Sir David resided for many years at Brighton and his obituary states “he was much beloved by all classes and the poor especially have to lament the loss of a constant friend and a ready and able advisor”. Another obituary stated he had been a magistrate in Brighton. Brighton suddenly made the connection, only 10 miles from Baxter’s home town of Lewes and where Baxter himself managed his father’s second shop in his early years.
One of the early auction catalogue references stated that is was after a painting by Parez. My research for an artist called Parez also drew me to Brighton being the only reference I could find to him. All his works I found are associated with the case of the murder of Celia Holloway by her husband John Holloway, himself, at one time, a painter on Brighton Chain Pier. The case appears to have attracted much attention and a staggering 23,000 people came to see the body of John Holloway in the 24 hours after he was hanged. A book was written about the case and published in 1832, the frontispiece has an engraving of John Holloway “ from a painting executed by Mr J Parez of Brighton at the particular request of Mrs Holloway his mother in Horsham Jail”. Other engravings in the book are from drawings by Mr Parez, but who was the judge in this case? Sir David Scott
I know knew the man, the artist and location and by chance, as most research seems to be, I located the original painting at Brighton & Hove Museums AND when discussing with the curator found they also had a print of the subject by Baxter – was this our long lost ‘only known copy’?
The painting is in rather poor condition but great to compare to Baxter’s print, which, under the print on the left it states Painted by J Parez and to the right Engraved by G Baxter Charterhouse Square London and under that:
Sir David Scott Bart KGH
From an original Painting in the Possession of the High Constable of Brighton AD 1836
The Museum quotes the size as 53 cm x 32.2 cm for the whole sheet and 20.4 x 17.1 for the actual image. Interesting they also state the size of the plate mark as 30.1 x 25.5, a larger area outside of the image than we normally see on any of Baxter other known plates.
Not having had the benefit of seeing the physical print but an excellent detailed digital image and taking into account CL’s initial comments this must be a mezzotint. The 1836 date is then somewhat confusing, does this mean that Baxter produced the print around this date or just the date it was in the possession of...The former seems more logical and the Charterhouse Square address makes this possible as Baxter was working from this address from March 1835 through to March 1844. If it was produced later why say in the possession of... in 1836 when you copied the painting and produced the print at a later date?
Baxter only used Mezzotint as a basis for producing an engraving on a few occasions, most noticeable his large scale Coronation and Opening of Parliament prints in 1841 and his portraits of Williams and Moffatt in 1843. Hence this appears to be the earliest use of mezzotint by Baxter even taken into account that his Coronation and Opening of Parliament prints took four years to prepare and the mezzotint base being one of the earliest tasks in engraving those plates.
Why didn’t CL add this rare print to his 1924 catalogue? Why wasn’t it included in later books on Baxter? Perhaps everyone has felt that the CL listings, first documented in 1908, is the ultimate list and shouldn’t be amended? It is not a colour print but CL listed a number of other such examples, like the uncoloured Williams and Moffat (CL 75 and 90 respectively) so why not Sir David Scott? I did put this to the New Baxter Society but they obviously felt it still didn’t warrant such inclusion. So although it is illustrated in their catalogue of Baxter prints it remains without its own (CL) number.
So, is it the rarest Baxter of the all? Baxter’s Map, The Chubbs, Launch of the Trafalgar, Conqueror of Europe, Teeth in Age, Morning Lessons are all very rare prints, but in all cases we know of multiple copies, be it on some only 2-3 examples.
So Sir David Scott, only one known copy? Is it the rarest Baxter of all?
Since writing this article and it being published in the New Baxter Society Newsletter of July 2013 I have come across another example of this print, so there are at least 2 known copies, this later copy most probably being the copy once in the possession of Courtney Lewis and auctioned in 1937. 2 copies BUT I still think it warrants the claim as the rarest of all Baxters?