William Mowat-Thomson: A Scottish Collector with International Tastes

From the sixteenth century onwards, young, aristocratic gentlemen travelled across Europe in the pursuit of artistic education, embarking on the so-called ‘Grand Tour’. Philosophy, theology, mythology and the arts were the focus of study; the foundational pillars of forming good taste.





William Mowat-Thomson came from humble beginnings, born on Shapinsay, a small island in the Orkneys, and worked to build his ‘empire’. He did not need a ‘Grand Tour’ to develop his appreciation of art and antiques. William did this through his own learning and reading, buying what he liked and emulating the grandeur of palatial homes like Balfour Castle that had so touched him as a young man.






McTear’s is proud to present William’s wonderful collection, a collection which transformed his exquisite Georgian Edinburgh townhouse into his own Balfour Castle, but with a larger than life theatrical quality, an extension of the man himself.


Viewing opens to the public on Tuesday 14 September.

Browse the collection >>
Bidding is available in the saleroom, live online, on the telephone and by absentee bid. 


Learn more about William Mowat-Thomson and order your own printed catalogue here >>

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