About this artwork

Tassie and Allan had been art students together at the Foulis Academy in Glasgow in the early 1760s. For a short while in the late 1770s they shared a house in London. Tassie invented a new medium, vitreous glass paste, which he used for making small portrait medallions and for making reproductions of antique gems and cameos. His products were sought by collectors all over the world, with Catherine the Great his most important patron.

  • title: James Tassie, 1735 - 1799. Sculptor and gem engraver
  • accession number: PG 576
  • artist: David AllanScottish (1744 - 1796)
  • depicted: James Tassie
  • gallery: Scottish National Portrait Gallery(On Display)
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Visual arts
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: About 1781
  • measurements: 76.60 x 64.90 cm (framed: 94.80 x 82.50 x 7.00 cm)
  • credit line: Bequeathed by William Tassie to the National Gallery of Scotland; transferred to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery 1898

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.