About this artwork

Turner is seen here probably in his mid to late forties, between his two journeys to Venice of 1819 and 1833. An informal study which borders on caricature, it shows him standing before an easel, clutching his palette and working on a canvas. It is difficult to date precisely: Allan may have met Turner during his visit to Scotland in 1818, and almost certainly saw him in 1822 and 1831. The inscription on this drawing states that Sir William Allan was President of the Royal Scottish Academy. The drawing belonged to the painter and pioneering photographer, David Octavius Hill.

Sir William Allan

Sir William Allan

Born in Edinburgh, Allan was apprenticed to a coach painter before studying at the Trustees' Academy in the city from 1799; David Wilkie was a fellow student and became a lifelong friend. Allan went to London in 1803 to continue his studies, possibly at the Royal Academy. In 1805 he went to Russia, where he was based until 1814, travelling widely in the region. On his return, he settled in Edinburgh where he painted scenes inspired by his travels as well as subjects from Scottish history and Sir Walter Scott's novels. He was appointed Master of the Trustees' Academy in 1826, elected President of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1838 and became the Queen's Limner for Scotland in 1841, the year he was knighted.