About this artwork

Alexander Gordon, who became the 4th Duke of Gordon at the age of nine, went on a Grand Tour of Europe to complete his education. This portrait of him was painted in Rome by Batoni, the fashionable portrait painter popular with the British aristocracy in Italy. Usually Batoni's Grand Tour portraits make references to the antiquities of Rome, but here he has emphasised Gordon's passion for hunting. The young duke was not particularly interested in the ancient sites or classical learning.

Pompeo Girolamo Batoni

Pompeo Girolamo Batoni

Batoni, a native of Lucca, was the son of a goldsmith. He began in his father's workshop but left for Rome in 1727 where he soon acquired a reputation for making fine drawings after the antique, which were often bought by British visitors. During his long career, Batoni executed altarpieces for the Roman churches and history paintings. In the 1750s he turned to portraiture, specialising in providing British gentlemen with a souvenir of their Grand Tour. His sitters are usually posed against a backdrop of Rome or beside some antique fragments, and appear effortlessly at ease with their classical surroundings.