Ayrshire, Penkill Castle; Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Stone Gallery; Christie’s London, November 28 2000, lot 15
Fatal sisters is the title of a famous poem by Thomas Gray dated 1768 and inspired by both the Roman myth of the three Parcae – divinities that choose men’s fates – and by the north European medieval tradition.
Our sheet is based on this poetic vein and it depicts the moment in which the three Parcae – here depicted as young women – decide which destiny to assign to the various warriors in battle. It is most probably a preparatory sketch for a painting exposed by Scott at one of the annual exhibitions of the British Institution between 1851 and 1852, which has gone missing. A reference to the painting by Scott with this title appeared on the magazine The Scotsman in 1852, in Lady Pauline Treveylan’s review on the annual painting exhibition at the Royal Scottish Academy.
The sheet was part of the artist’s collection in his Scottish house: the Penkill Castle in Ayrshire. Scott was both a poet and a painter and lived with his companion Alice Boyd in this castle – visited by many pre-Raphaelite artists such as William Morris, Dante Gabriele Rossetti and Arthur Hughes.
 The British Institution, 1806-1867: A Complete Dictionary of Contributors and Their Work from the Foundation of the Institution, p. 1908. One of his paintings bearing the same title, is mentioned in the inventory of the Royal Scottish Academy (1826-1916), p. 352 (year 1852).