About this artwork

In 1788, Allan began a series of watercolours depicting the local characters of Edinburgh. This drawing of a Highland soldier was part of the series, which also included a fishwife, chimney sweep and a fireman. Allan carefully studied these figures, often exaggerating certain traits or characteristics so that they almost look like caricatures. His pictures of the people and scenes of everyday life earned him the title of the 'Scottish Hogarth'. His work greatly influenced other artists in Scotland and he was considered the father of Scottish genre painting.

  • title: A Highland Soldier
  • accession number: D 395
  • artist: David AllanScottish (1744 - 1796)
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Work on paper
  • subject: Military and naval
  • medium: Watercolour
  • date created: About 1785
  • measurements: 24.40 x 18.30 cm
  • credit line: David Laing Bequest to the Royal Scottish Academy transferred 1910

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.