In this 1842 book (in English, not Latin) the boundaries between artistic
fantasy and provable historical fact were successfully blurred as the Celtic
revival became fashionable. The authors were the Sobrieski Stuart brothers
who claimed descent from Bonnie Prince Charlie and access to a version
of a 16th century manuscript describing tartan patterns.
The brothers gained entry to the social circles of Scottish gentry in London
and the Highland chiefs in Scotland, especially through offering tartan
patterns for a "name". They evidently loved the subject, producing
many good patterns that had traditional elements though some tired variations
on established patterns. Whilst neither their pedigree nor their document
have been accepted, many of their tartans live on as successful patterns.
Victoria and Albert
In 1842 Queen Victoria spent her honeymoon with Prince Albert in Scotland,
and her reign was to give considerable patronage to "things Scottish"
and tartan in particular. Her court became active in developing new royal
tartans, decorating Balmoral with tartan, attending Highland Games and so
on. She became the over-arching context for the developing need to record
tartans, especially within the enlarged concept of clan.
W & A Smith
In 1850, William & Andrew Smith published Authenticated Tartans of the
Clans and Families of Scotland and this completed half a century of basic
recording. This and previous books satisfied much of the emerging Victorian
In 1886, James Grant usefully published a work based upon samples of tartan
then in use, called The Tartans and Clans of Scotland. The first
recording of the excellent "Hunting Stewart" pattern appeared
This was followed up by D.W. Stewart's Old and Rare Scottish Tartans,
focusing on the more historically authentic designs and using beautiful
silk weaves as illustrations, overcoming the difficulty of printing tartans
in books. Only 300 copies were made, making it rare itself.
D.W. Stewart represents a line of tartan research that continued into the
20th century, handed down to his son Donald (D.C.) Stewart.
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