Sir Walter Scott?s tale `The Black Dwarf? first appeared in `The Tales of My Landlord? in 1816. Its central character was based upon the historical figure of David Ritchie. Hounded by mockery of his physical deformity, `Bow?d Davie? took refuge in the Manor Valley in Peeblesshire where he built a curious cottage of stones and turf. After meeting Scott about 1818, Allan became his protege, close friend and favoured illustrator. By 1827, when this picture was commissioned by the Royal Institution for the Encouragement of the Fine Arts in Scotland, Allan had established himself as the leading narrative painter of Scottish history. His particular approach towards the presentation of Scotland?s past frequently paralleled the literary reconstructions of Scott.