About this artwork

William Marshall was described by Robert Burns as the 'first composer of Strathspeys of the age'; a strathspey being a Scottish dance tune, somewhat slower than a reel. Marshall was born in Fochabers, in the north east of Scotland, and became house steward and butler to the Duke of Gordon. This portrait was commissioned by the Duke and shows Marshall with his fiddle and bow as if he has just paused whilst composing a new piece - his quill and paper are ready on the table beside him. Marshall set new standards of technical accomplishment and many of his tunes are still played today.

  • title: William Marshall, 1748 - 1833. Violinist and composer
  • accession number: PG 2987
  • artist: John MoirScottish (1775 - 1857)
  • depicted: William Marshall
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Music
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: 1817
  • measurements: 127.00 x 101.60 cm (framed: 160.50 x 135.20 x 8.50 cm)
  • credit line: Bequeathed by Ian Grant Smith 1994

John Moir

John Moir

Moir was the son of the minister of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, and the nephew of James Byres, the famous Scottish antiquarian in Rome. Moir was in Edinburgh in 1803, when he was described as a landscape painter. After studying in Italy, he based himself in Edinburgh but he spent part of every year back in the north east. Working mainly as a portrait painter, he seems to have regularly been in financial difficulties. In the 1840s he returned permanently to Peterhead. His sitters include many significant figures from Aberdeenshire area.