Feb 13, 1744 – Aug 6, 1796
David Allan was a Scottish painter and illustrator, best known for historical subjects and genre works. He was born at Alloa in central Scotland. On leaving Foulis’s academy of painting at Glasgow, after seven years’ successful study, he obtained the patronage of Lord Cathcart and of Erskine of Mar, on whose estate he had been born. Erskine made it possible for him to travel to Rome, where he remained until 1777, studying under Gavin Hamilton and copying the old masters.
In 1771 he sent two history paintings, Pompey the Great after his Defeat and Cleopatra Weeping Over the Ashes of Mark Antony to the Royal Academy exhibition in London. In 1773, still in Rome, his Hector’s Farewell from Andromache won the Accademia di S Luca’s gold medal.
Among the original works which he then painted was the “Origin of Portraiture”, now in the National Gallery at Edinburgh—representing a Corinthian maid drawing her lover’s shadow—well known through Domenico Cunego’s excellent engraving. This won him the gold medal given by the Academy of St Luke in the year 1773 for the best specimen of historical composition.