John Alexander

William Keith, 4th Earl of Kintore, about 1701 - 1761 (baptised 5th January 1702) (about 1736)

About this artwork

William Keith succeeded his brother John as 4th Earl of Kintore in 1758. He never married and on his death in 1761 no-one could prove a claim to his title, which resulted in the earldom lying dormant for seventeen years. The artist John Alexander visited Keith Hall in 1736 and probably painted William Keith at that time. In this portrait, Keith wears a great example of a fashionable knotted wig. The eighteenth century was the golden age of male wig wearing. The full-bottomed periwig, universally worn by the aristocracy during the second half of the seventeenth century, was now only used as formal wear by judges and clergymen. Wigs for daily use were increasingly cropped, while styles and materials – human, horse, goat or yak hair – continued to change with fashion and personal taste.

  • title: William Keith, 4th Earl of Kintore, about 1701 - 1761 (baptised 5th January 1702)
  • accession number: PGL 339
  • artist: John AlexanderScottish (1686 - about 1766)
  • depicted: William Keith, 4th Earl of Kintore
  • gallery: In Storage
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: about 1736
  • measurements: 76.20 x 63.50 cm (framed: 86.00 x 73.50 x 3.90 cm)
  • credit line: Long loan in 1988

John Alexander

John Alexander

John Alexander, son of an Aberdeen doctor, was the great-grandson of George Jamesone, the most famous Scottish painter of the seventeenth century. After some time in London, Alexander travelled to Italy in 1711 where he studied under Giuseppe Chiari and received commissions from the Stuart court in exile. When he returned to Scotland in 1720 he worked for the Duke of Gordon, a Catholic and a staunch Jacobite, and produced his most ambitious work, a ceiling painting for Gordon Castle. Most of his clients were from the north-east of Scotland and many were Jacobites. He took up arms for Prince Charles in the 1745 Rising and became a fugitive after Culloden but was back in Edinburgh working openly by 1748.