About this artwork

By 1626, when this portrait was commissioned, Lady Mary Erskine was twenty nine years old, and had already been married an incredible seventeen years. She was the daughter of the 2nd Earl of Mar, who was High Treasurer of Scotland and a friend of King James VI and I. In 1609, aged only twelve, she married the 6th Earl Marischal, and went on to have four children. Jamesone’s clientele encompassed the leading nobility of Scotland, and he was on unusually intimate terms with the Erskine family. As well as painting Lady Mary, he painted her first son William Keith, 7th Earl Marischal, and her third son George Keith became godfather to Jamesone’s son. The richness and refinement of surface detail in this portrait, is exceptional in Jamesone's surviving work.

George Jamesone

George Jamesone

Born in Aberdeen, the portrait painter George Jamesone was the son of a master-mason. He was apprenticed to the decorative painter, John Anderson of Edinburgh, in 1612. His earliest patrons were the merchants and academics of Aberdeen, but he soon became the painter to the nobility of the north east. From 1633 he was working in Edinburgh and painted a series of imaginary portraits of historical monarchs as decorations for the triumphal entry of Charles I. Jamesone was Scotland's first great native painter and was highly celebrated in his lifetime.