Art Wednesday: Richard Waitt

Portrait of John 20th Earl of Crawford and Lindsay 1725-30 Oil on canvas laid onto board Private collection

Portrait of John 20th Earl of Crawford and Lindsay
1725-30
Oil on canvas laid onto board
Private collection

Richard Waitt was a Scottish painter, active from c. 1706 and died in 1732. Waitt specialised in portraiture, but began his career as a decorative painter. His first recorded work is a coat of arms for the Earl of Hopetoun. He may have trained in the Edinburgh studio of the painter John Scougal (c. 1645-c. 1730) and seems to have produced several different types of painting, notably still-life. However later he painted primarily portraits, and for many years worked almost exclusively with the Clan Grant.

Self-Portrait 1728 Oil on canvas, 107 x 127 cm National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

Self-Portrait
1728
Oil on canvas, 107 x 127 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

He married into a family with Jacobite sympathies and possibly left the country, temporarily, after the 1715 Jacobite Rising. He must have returned by 1722, however, when he resumed work for the Clan Grant based in Castle Grant, Strathspey. Waitt’s series of portraits formed a unique clan gallery.

Crash

About the Portrait of John 20th Earl of Crawford and Lindsay:

This painting represents the full-length portrait of John 20th Earl of Crawford and Lindsay, “The Gallant Earl of Crawford” (1702-1749) dressed in Hussars’ uniform holding a musket and standing in a highland landscape. Like his father he sought a military career; he entered the army in 1726 and was a captain in the 3rd foot guards by the end of 1734. Undoubted bravery, far-flung service, generosity of spirit, and courageous persistence in living with a painful wound made “the gallant earl” a hero to his contemporaries.

About the Self-Portrait:

This self-portrait shows the artist sitting at his easel pointing to a painting that he has just completed. The painting of the nude on his easel is probably a representation of ‘sight’ from the traditional series of the five senses, explaining the little hand-mirror – and, of course, the unseen mirror into which Waitt himself looks. Or perhaps the woman, who gazes towards the artist rather than her mirror, symbolizes the art of portraiture itself.

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