David Allan

Sir John Halkett of Pitfirrane, 4th Bart (1720 - 1793), Mary Hamilton, Lady Halkett and their Family (Dated 1781)

About this artwork

Halkett and his second wife Mary are shown with his daughter by his first wife, and his thirteen younger children, whose names are provided by Allan in a key on the back of the canvas. The Halketts are posing in the grounds of their Fifeshire seat at Pitfirrane House – now the premises of the Dunfermline Golf Club – against a background vista of the town of Dunfermline. Completed in 1871, this painting is one of the first examples of the elaborate type of group portrait or ‘conversation piece’ which Allan pioneered in Scotland after his permanent return from Italy and London in 1780.

  • title: Sir John Halkett of Pitfirrane, 4th Bart (1720 - 1793), Mary Hamilton, Lady Halkett and their Family
  • accession number: NG 2157
  • artist: David AllanScottish (1744 - 1796)
  • depicted: Sir John Halkett
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: Dated 1781
  • measurements: 153.00 x 239.50 cm (framed: 165.00 x 251.50 x 7.40 cm)
  • credit line: Bequest of Miss Madeline Halkett of Pitfirrane 1951
  • photographer: Antonia Reeve

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.