About this artwork

This man owes his notoriety to an audacious scam, the 'colonisation' in the 1820s of an inhospitable part of the Mosquito Coast of Central America. MacGregor's venture was at best misleading, at worst criminal, costing many lives and swindling hundreds of thousands of pounds in loans on the back of fraudulent land sales. This handsome portrait, however, predates these scandalous events. MacGregor is shown as a young soldier, in the uniform of the 57th Regiment of Foot, but perhaps his features already suggest extreme self-confidence.

George Watson

George Watson

Born in Berwickshire, the son of wealthy Scottish landowners, George Watson trained under Alexander Nasmyth in Edinburgh before spending two years in London with Sir Joshua Reynolds. He returned to Scotland and set up his own practice as a portrait painter. Although successful, he worked under the shadow of Raeburn, whose style he followed. He was one of the founder members of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1826 and its first president.