The Novelist’s Wife

Alexander Gallaway, 1809


This portrait is traditionally thought to represent Marguerite Charlotte Charpentier, the wife of the Scottish novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott. It was originally paired and exhibited together with a signed portrait of Scott but has regrettably since been separated. French by birth, Scott married Charlotte after courting her for just three weeks and with her had five children though one died shortly after birth. She was described as “attractive, mature, and verbally sophisticated”.

Looking pensive in this portrait, she is elegantly dressed in a burgundy red gown with a standing collar fill-in and a fur stole over her shoulder. Her hair has been swept up and decorated with a gold pin on her forehead.

The portrait is in good condition with just a small spot of paint loss visible only upon magnification. It is set in a later gilt metal frame backed with velvet.

Scottish-born, Alexander Gallaway began his career as a miniaturist in Glasgow but soon moved to Edinburgh where he would undoubtedly have hoped to attract a wider clientele. He exhibited at the Society of Artists in Edinburgh.

Item Ref. 6363

Size: framed, 83 x 67mm

Provenance: Scottish Private Collection

Exhibited: Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh July-October 2006

Literature: Portrait Miniatures from Scottish Private Collections / Steven Lloyd. (2006) p.100