About this artwork

The Duke of Roxburghe’s fame stems from his collection of books, which, when sold over forty-five days in 1812, reached more than £23,000. The Roxburghe Club of fine book collectors was formed at this time and named in his memory. Roxburghe shared an interest in books with King George III and was favoured with impressive titles such as a knighthood of the Thistle and the Order of the Garter. Like many aristocrats and gentry figures, Roxburghe travelled to Italy in 1760 to partake in the Grand Tour. In line with fashion, he was painted by the Italian painter Pompeo Batoni whilst in Rome in 1762 (despite the painting being dated 1761). Batoni’s ability to depict his sitter’s status through their dress is highlighted in Roxburghe’s lavish peer’s robes.

  • title: John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe, 1740 - 1804. Bibliophile
  • accession number: PG 2940
  • artist: Pompeo Girolamo BatoniItalian (1708 - 1787)
  • depicted: John Ker, 3rd Duke of Roxburghe
  • gallery: On Loan
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Travel Writing and literature
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1761
  • measurements: 248.00 x 172.50 cm (framed: 274.32 x 200.66 x 10.16 cm)
  • credit line: Accepted by the Secretary of State for Scotland in lieu of inheritance tax and allocated to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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.