In an article published in the December 1994 issue of Common Stock, Hugh Cheape described how ‘stock’ imagery was used in the 18th century to depict Highland Pipes. Here, Pete Stewart describes the different imagery used for the ‘common bagpipe’.

In his original article Hugh Cheape described how ‘stock’ imagery of Highland Pipes, rather than depicting the actual instrument, could be seen to derive ultimately from the well-known painting of ‘The Bagpiper’ by the Dutch artist Abraham Bloemaert. A typical example is the Highland Piper by Francis Grosse, published in 1796 [right].
These images are typified by the strange ‘tenor’ drone, which in the original painting gives the initial impression of missing its upper half. The first time this image appears in Highland form is in 1743, depicting a piper associated with the Black Watch mutiny, and it re-appeared on occasions when a highland piper was required in publications aimed at a market which could be trusted to know no better, until well into the 19th century.
It has recently become apparent that this image was exclusively linked to Highland pipers, seen in London perhaps as something wild and exotic. For the ’common’ bagpipe a different stock image was employed, suggesting the existence in the public, or at least in the ‘artistic’ consciousness, of a different kind of bagpipe, and that this second kind of bagpipe was taken to be the Scottish bagpipe.

I propose to refer to this bagpipe as the ‘Hogarth’ pipe, since it is in the work of that artist that the image appears first and most frequently. However, before discussing this image it is worth noting that the earliest depiction of a ‘populist’ nature of a highland piper appears in the frontispiece to Joseph Mitchell’s ‘Highland Fair’, published in London in 1731. It depicts a pipe quite different to the Bloemart one. This instrument is a single-drone version of the one Hogarth showed two years later in his ‘Southwark Fair’.  
Hogarth, however, had already made two representations of bagpipers; they appear in the engravings for the ‘skimmington’ [rough music] episode in Samuel Butler’s Civil War satire ‘Hudibras’.  Hogarth produced two sets of illustrations for this work; the one depicted is from the ‘small’ set of seven done in 1726.

What intrigued me about this image  is that the pipes do not appear to have a blow-pipe, which the Southwark Fair ones clearly do, and as the pipes depicted by Hogarth in his ‘Marriage a la Mode’ painting do.
However, there is nothing in these pictures to suggest that Hogarth is depicting a Scottish bagpipe; these pictures might be regarded as evidence for the existence (if not for the organology ) of a bagpipe in England at the time.

It is not until the middle of the century that Hogarth linked this bagpipe to Scotland. The first appearance I am aware of is in a subscription ticket to a Prize Draw he organized for his painting of ‘The March to Finchley’, a fictional gathering of English soldiers in Tottenham Court Road preparing to march to Finchley Common (the site, incidentally, of the Black Watch Mutiny) where they were to defend the City against the Jacobites in 1746; Hogarth’s engraving is dated 1750. It shows the regalia of the defeated rebels. Here it can clearly be seen that the bagpipe has no blow-pipe; what is more, there may be a set of bellows below it, though there is no obvious way of inflating the bag. It is clear that this is no accurate depiction of a known bagpipe.
Hogarth give us another image of it, this time with a little more detail, in his 1756 painting of the ‘Election Celebration’. Again, there seems to be the implicit suggestion that this is a Scottish bagpipe, this time suggested by the red hair and bonnet of the piper, and again, there seems to be no sign of a blow-pipe.

Two more London-produced images of Scottish pipers seem to have drawn on this ‘stock’ imagery. The first was included in a Broadside ballad entitled ‘The Political Bagpiper’, dated 1762. The song, to be sung to the tune ‘The Flowers of Edinburgh’ is a satire on the supposed intimate relationship between The Earl of Bute and the mother of George III (who is himself shown here playing the fiddle).
 ‘John o’ Boot’ is shown as a piper and the ‘Dame of Renown’ as playing the German Flute; ‘Who the de’el with a Scotsman shell e’er dispute? But his Bagpipe alone has too much of a Drone, And of Need must be joined with my German Flute’.

Again there is no sign of a blow-pipe; this is not the case in the second image from this period, during which the influence of the Scots on Parliament was deeply resented amongst many sectors of the London population. This image (right) is part of a print depicting the extraordinary events that occurred in 1767 in Warwick Lane in the City of London, when a party of physicians, (including among them the Queen’s physician, a Scotsman), embittered by their barring from the exclusively Oxbridge Royal Society of Physicians, marched on the Warwick Lane premises of that Society and trashed them, assisted by a blacksmith employed for the purpose of breaking down the gates. Here the pipes are clearly shown to be mouth-blown, and the instrument seems to be a strange hybrid of the Hogarth and Bloemart images.

If the Highland images can be traced back to a late-16th century Dutch painter, is it possible to say where Hogarth drew his image from, since it is evident that he was not copying an instrument he was closely-acquainted with?
The answer is fairly simply found; the German painter Hans Sebald Beham (1500-1550) is probably the most prolific painter of this instrument, though Hogarth may have been better acquainted with the engravings of Durer, or perhaps the later 17th century imitators. Beham drew these pipes many times; I have included two of his images; one of them is one of the few paintings of the period to show clearly a common-stock for the drones, though all his pipes are mouth-blown.

We are left wondering therefore, was Hogarth depicting a bellows-blown pipe? Was this the only aspect of the detail of his pipes that he drew authentically? That his pictures are clearly different in source to those of Highlanders of the same period is evident; there is therefore reason to presume that a different kind of bagpipe was recognised in London, one with Scottish connotations but not Highland.  My suggestion is that this was the ‘common’ bagpipe, familiar to artists in London and to Lowlanders in Scotland. This bagpipe was bellows-blown; that it was the ‘common’ bagpipe, that is the bagpipe most people would recognize, is suggested by a comment made in an essay on Rosslyn Chapel published in Edinburgh by James Tytler in 1774, in which the bagpipes carved there are particularly described, as if this were unfamiliar to his readers, as being mouth-blown, ‘in the Highland manner’. The ‘common’ bagpipe, it is suggested was equally as familiar in London as it was in Edinburgh.

[Ed. - Since going to press a number of remarkable images of bellows pipes from the 18th century have come to light. These will be discussed in an epilogue to this article in our December issue.]

I am indebted to Julian Goodacre for the Warwick Lane image, to Andy Hornby for drawing my attention to the Political bagpiper, and to the LBPS archive for preserving the edition of ‘Der Dudlpfeifer’ (10, jhrg, No 65, 1990) in which I discovered the Hogarth Hudibras images, the Highland Fair image and the Finchley March ticket.
The Warwick Lane episode is documented in The Journal of Medical History for June 1956
For the Finchley Road episode and painting see
The Hudibras engravings are at
The Political Bagpiper is at
A selection of Beham’s bagpipers is at
For a detailed reconsideration of the Bloemart piper and his legacy see Clive Matthews’ essay ‘Is this a drone I see before me’ in Chanter, the Journal of the Bagpipe Society, Summer 2010.