Scott, David (1806–1849) and William Bell
These two brothers displayed unusual talent in the treatment
of supernatural themes in art. David Scott was born October
10 (or 12), 1806, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and lived a comparatively
uneventful life, his remarkable gifts being largely
unrecognized by his contemporaries. He died on March 5,
In modern times, however, connoisseurs have appreciated
his paintings, perceiving in his work great technical merits. In
addition, people who care for art dealing with the supernatural
have noted that Scott’s Paracelsus and Vasco de Gama are in the
forefront of work of this kind. His beautiful drawings for The
Ancient Mariner express the very spirit of Coleridge, the archmystic,
rendering it with a skill unsurpassed in any previous or
subsequent illustrations to this poem.
David’s brother, William Bell Scott, was also born in Edinburgh,
his birth date being September 12, 1811. His career was
very different from David’s, for he won worldly success from the
outset, and before his death on November 22, 1890, he had received
much acclaim.
Etching some of his brother’s works, and painting a host of
pictures, he was also a voluminous writer, and his Autobiographical
Notes of the Life of William Bell Scott (2 vols., published posthumously,
1892) contains insights concerning the mystic symbolism
permeating the painting of the Middle Ages. It also
contains a shrewd and interesting account of D. G. Rossetti’s essays
on table-turning and other Spiritualist practices.
William Bell’s poems are almost all of a metaphysical order,
and although it is extravagant to call him ‘‘the Scottish Blake,’’
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology • 5th Ed. Scott, David and William Bell
as many people have done, his mystical verse undoubtedly reflects
a certain ‘‘meditative beauty,’’ as ‘‘Fiona Macleod’’ (William
Sharp) once wrote on the subject.

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