SCOTT, DAVID (1806-1849), historical painter, was born at Edinburgh in October 1806, and studied under his father, Robert Scott, an engraver of repute in the city. For a time in his youth he occupied himself with the burin ; but he soon turned his attention to original work in colour, and in 1828 he exhibited his first oil picture, the Hopes of Early Genius dispelled by Death, which was followed by Cain, Nimrod, Adam and Eve singing their Morning Hymn, Sarpedon carried by Sleep and Death, and other subjects of a poetic and imaginative character. In 1829 he became a member of the Scottish Academy, and in 1832 visited Italy, where he spent more than a year in study. At Rome he executed a large symbolical painting, entitled the Agony of Discord, or the Household Gods Destroyed. On his return to Scotland he continued the strenuous and unwearied practice of his art ; but his pro-ductions were too recondite and abstract in subject ever to become widely popular, while the defects and exaggerations of their draftsmanship repelled connoisseurs. So the gravity which had always been characteristic of the artist passed into gloom ; he shrank from society and led a secluded life, hardly quitting his studio, his mind con-stantly occupied with the great problems of life and of his art. The works of his later years include Vasco da Gama encountering the Spirit of the Storm, a picture - immense in size and most powerful in conception - finished in 1842, and now preserved in the Trinity House, Leith ; the Duke of Gloucester entering the Water Gate of Calais (1841), an impressive subject, more complete and har-monious in execution than was usual with the artist ; the Alchemist (1838), Queen Elizabeth at the Globe Theatre (1840), and Peter the Hermit (1845), remarkable for their varied and elaborate character-painting ; and Ariel and Caliban (1837) and the Triumph of Love (1846), distin-guished by their beauty of colouring and depth of poetic feeling. The most important of his religious subjects are the Descent from the Cross (1835) and the Crucifixion - the Dead Rising (1844). In addition to his works in colour Scott executed several remarkable series of designs. Two of these - the Monograms of Man and the illustra-tions to Coleridge's Ancient Mariner - were etched by his own hand, and published in 1831 and 1837 respectively, while his subjects from the Pilgrim's Progress and Nichol's Architecture of the Heavens were issued after his death. Among his literary productions are five elaborate and thoughtful articles on the characteristics of the Italian masters, published in BlacA-wood's Magazine, 1839 to 1841, and a pamphlet on British, French, and German Painting, 1841. He died in Edinburgh on the 5th of March 1849. As a colourist David Scott occupies a high place in the Scottish school, but the most distinctive merit of his works lies in the boldness of their conception and their imagina-tive and poetic power.
See W. B. Scott, Memoir of David Scott, B.S. A. (1850), and J. M. Gray, David Scott, R.S. A., and his JVarks (1884).