WAITT, Richard
(active 1706-1732)

The Cromartie Fool

1731
Oil on canvas, 72 x 60 cm
National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

This grinning man holds a kail stock with a burning candle stuck in the top. This helps identify him as the fool or jester of a Scottish laird, who probably presided over Halloween festivities. Traditionally, unmarried men and women pulled up kail stocks to confirm the character of their future partner. A candle was then stuck into the end to make a torch. This portrait, painted in 1731, was possibly part of a series depicting Scottish clan members.