Dance

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Sir William Quiller Orchardson

The Queen of the Swords
1877

The elegant formal dance performed in this picture contrasts with the lively jigs in ‘The Penny Wedding', yet both images reflect an interest in Scottish social life and traditions. This painting was inspired by a passage in ‘The Pirate', a novel by the famous nineteenth-century writer Sir Walter Scott. The country dance which Scott described required its female participants to pass under an arch of drawn swords. Orchardson was a Scottish artist who made his name in London. He is best known for his imaginary reconstructions of Shakespearean scenes, and of eighteenth-century history and social life. Whereas Scott's novel was set in the seventeenth century, Orchardson changed the action to the 1700s.

  • Credits Purchased 1910
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 48.80 x 81.90 cm (framed: 83.50 x 116.50 x 9.00 cm)

Papa Stour Sword Dance

The sword dance described by Sir Walter Scott in ‘The Pirate’ was based on a war-like dance practised on Papa Stour, a tiny island off the Shetland mainland. Scott heard of it while travelling in the far north of Scotland in 1814.