Sporting Art by Snaffles Lionel Edwards Cecil Aldin Alfred Munnings Tom Carr and Gilbert Holiday
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Sir Peter Scott CH CBE DSC* FRS FZS (14 September 1909 – 29 August 1989) was a British ornithologist, conservationist, painter, naval officer and sportsman. Read More
Sir Peter Markam Scott
Scott was born in London, the only child of Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott and sculptor Kathleen Bruce. He was only two years old when his father died. Robert Scott, in a last letter to his wife, advised her to “make the boy interested in natural history if you can; it is better than games.” He was named after Sir Clements Markham, mentor of Scott’s polar expeditions, and his godfather was J. M. Barrie, creator of Peter Pan.
He was educated at Oundle School and Trinity College, Cambridge, initially reading Natural Sciences but graduating in the History of Art in 1931. Whilst at Cambridge he shared digs with John Berry and the two shared many views.
Like his mother, he displayed a strong artistic talent and he became known as a painter of wildlife, particularly birds; he had his first exhibition in London in 1933. His wealthy background allowed him to follow his interests in art, wildlife and many sports, including wildfowling, sailing and ice skating. He represented Great Britain and Northern Ireland at sailing in the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the O-Jolle dinghy class.
During the Second World War, Scott served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. As a Sub-Lieutenant, during the failed evacuation of the 51st Highland Division he was the British Naval officer sent ashore at Saint-Valery-en-Caux in the early hours of 11 June 1940 to evacuate some of the wounded. This was the last evacuation of British troops from the port area of St Valery that was not disrupted by enemy fire.
Then he served in destroyers in the North Atlantic but later moved to commanding the First (and only) Squadron of Steam Gun Boats against German E-boats in the English Channel. Peter Scott was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for bravery.
Scott married the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard in 1942 and had a daughter, Nicola, born a year later. Howard left Scott in 1946 and they were divorced in 1951. Howard, like Scott a Secretary in Robert Aickman’s Inland Waterways Association, had an affair with Aickman.
In 1951, Peter Scott married his assistant, Philippa Talbot-Ponsonby, while on an expedition to Iceland in search of the breeding grounds of the pink-footed goose. A daughter, Dafila, was born later in the same year (dafila is the old scientific name for a pintail). She, too, became an artist, painting birds. A son, Falcon, was born in 1954.
On 8 July 1941, it was announced that Peter Scott had been Mentioned in Despatches “for good services in rescuing survivors from a burning Vessel” while serving on HMS Broke. On 2 October 1942, it was announced that he had been further Mentioned in Despatches “for gallantry, daring and skill in the combined attack on Dieppe”. On 1 June 1943, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) “for skill and gallantry in action with enemy light forces”.
He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 1942 King’s Birthday Honours. He was promoted to Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1953 Coronation Honours.
Scott was knighted in 1973 for his contribution to the conservation of wild animals. He had been a founder of the World Wide Fund for Nature, founded the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (November 1946), and was an influence on international conservation. He received the WWF Gold Medal and the J. Paul Getty Prize for his work.
In the 1987 Queen’s Birthday Honours, he was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) “for services to conservation”. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on 27 February 1973.