Sir John Watson Gordon

John Taylor, fl. 1807 - 1825 (about 1830)

About this artwork

This portrait of John Taylor and his caddy is one of the greatest golfing pictures. It shows Taylor, in his red captain's jacket, about to tee off on the original course of The Honourable Company of Edinburgh Golfers on Leith Links, two miles north-east of the city centre. In 1744 this group (then known as 'the gentlemen golfers') had drawn up the first official rules for a tournament which were to form the basis for the modern game of golf. The club moved to Musselburgh in 1836 and further down the coast to Muirfield at the end of the nineteenth century. Leith Links are now split in two by a road. This is an impressive early work by Sir John Watson Gordon. After Raeburn's death in 1823, Watson Gordon became Scotland's leading portrait painter.

Sir John Watson Gordon

Sir John Watson Gordon

John Watson Gordon was training to become an army engineer when, encouraged by his uncle, the painter, George Watson, and Raeburn, who was a family friend, he decided to become an artist. His first works were subject pictures but, after Raeburn's death in 1823, he established himself as the leading portrait painter in Scotland. His style was at first closely based on Raeburn but was later more influenced by his admiration for Velázquez. In 1850 he was elected President of the Royal Scottish Academy, appointed Queen's Limner for Scotland and knighted.