About this artwork

Look at the strong backbone and determined eyes of the artist Ann Forbes - to be an independent woman in the eighteenth century was hard work. Ann Forbes, grand-daughter of William Aikman, the portrait painter, studied in Rome before setting up a studio in London. Her society friends shunned her for going into business. Ill and discouraged, she returned to Edinburgh where she established herself as a drawing teacher, a more acceptable occupation for a woman, although she still accepted commissions for portraits whenever she could.

David Allan

David Allan

Allan was born in Alloa, on the Firth of Forth, and attended the Foulis Academy in Glasgow for seven years. In 1767 he moved to Rome, where he lived for ten years; this was the most successful period of his life. In Rome Allan painted ambitious historical pictures, portraits, caricatures and genre scenes. On returning to London in 1777, he spent two years trying to establish himself. Unsuccessful and ill, he returned to Scotland where he specialised in painting family groups. He also produced book illustrations and was appointed master of the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh.