About this artwork

This youthful portrait of Martin was painted in the early 1760s, possibly while he was still an assistant the London studio of his fellow Scotsman Allan Ramsay. He painted himself with clear skin, rosy cheeks and wavy ginger hair. His casual pose and loose collar have a friendly informality. Martin made a copy of this work and presented it to his master Allan Ramsay, therefore he presumably felt it was well executed and a true likeness. His career as an independent portrait painter flourished from the mid 1760s onwards, undoubtedly aided by a commission to paint Benjamin Franklin who was in London in 1767. Franklin was so impressed with the likeness, he had a replica made to take home to Philadelphia.

see more information
  • title: Self-portrait
  • accession number: NG 569
  • artist: David MartinScottish (1737 - 1797)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • subject: Self-portrait
  • materials: Oil on canvas
  • date created: About 1760
  • measurements: 49.50 x 39.40 cm (framed: 65.00 x 54.70 x 6.00cm)
  • credit line: Presented by the artist's relatives, the Misses Bryce, to the RSA; transferred and presented 1910

David Martin

David Martin

David Martin was born in Anstruther, Fife, the son of a schoolmaster. He trained under Allan Ramsay, working in his fellow Scot's London studio from about 1752. In 1755 he joined Ramsay in Rome and probably returned with him to London in 1757, working as his chief assistant, producing copies of state portraits. He settled in Edinburgh in the mid 1780s where his successful portrait practice functioned as a key link between his master, Ramsay, and Henry Raeburn. One of Martin's earliest independent works is a portrait of Benjamin Franklin (1767), which now hangs in The White House, Washington.