About this artwork

David Allan painted a fascinating set of pictures when the Industrial Revolution was taking hold in Scotland. The setting is the famous lead mines at Leadhills in South Lanarkshire, owned by the 3rd Earl of Hopetoun, who commissioned these paintings. They show the four key stages in lead processing, of which this is the first. The company’s junior employees are engaged in the simplest stage of the process, observed by the Earl and his Countess. Once pounded and broken down by the young boys, who were frequently as young as nine, the lumps of crude ore were sent to be sieved and washed.

  • title: Lead Processing at Leadhills: Pounding the Ore
  • accession number: NG 2834
  • artist: David AllanScottish (1744 - 1796)
  • gallery: Scottish National Gallery Of Modern Art One(In Storage)
  • object type: Painting
  • medium: Oil on canvas
  • date created: Probably 1780s
  • measurements: 38.30 x 58.00 cm (framed 45.00 x 65.30 cm)
  • credit line: Accepted by HM Government in Lieu of Inheritance Tax and allocated to the National Galleries of Scotland, 2008

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.