About this artwork

Moray-born Francis Grant trained as a lawyer at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, between 1684 and 1687. He returned to Scotland where he was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates and afterwards established a flourishing legal practice. In 1709 he was appointed Lord of Session – a judge in the Scottish Supreme Court – and took the title Lord Cullen. A devout Presbyterian and an outspoken unionist, Lord Cullen was also famous for his unclear and chaotic style of writing and pleading at the bar. This half-length portrait is one of John Smibert’s earliest surviving works. Lord Cullen wears the crimson robes and periwig of a Lord of Session. During the early 1700s, the fashion for periwigs reached its peak but by the 1750s only clergymen and judges continued to wear these long wigs.

  • title: Sir Francis Grant, Lord Cullen, 1658 - 1726. Judge
  • accession number: PG 1521
  • artist: John SmibertScottish (1688 - 1751)
  • depicted: Sir Francis Grant, Lord Cullen
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: The law
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: About 1720
  • measurements: 76.50 x 63.50 cm (framed: 91.50 x 78.50 x 6.80 cm)
  • credit line: Purchased 1949
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

John Smibert

John Smibert

The son of an Edinburgh wool dyer, John Smibert was apprenticed to a house painter and plasterer before training as an artist in London from 1713. He returned to Edinburgh two years later and soon completed his first portrait commissions. After a stay of three years in Italy during which time he studied the Old Masters, in 1722 he opened a portrait studio in London. By 1728, however, Smibert was persuaded to travel to the British colony of Bermuda in order to teach painting at a college that had not yet been founded. This mission proved unsuccessful and Smibert settled in Boston where he married the well-off daughter of a schoolmaster. He became a man of social standing and a successful portrait painter, who was to have considerable influence on later American portraiture.