1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Allan, David
ALLAN, DAVID (1744–1796), Scottish historical painter, was born at Alloa. On leaving Foulis’s academy of painting at Glasgow (1762), after seven years' successful study, he obtained the patronage of Lord Cathcart and of Erskine of Mar, on whose estate he had been born. The latter furnished him with the means of proceeding to Rome (1764), where he remained for a number of years engaged principally in copying the old masters. Among the original works which he then painted was the “The Origin of Portraiture”—representing a Corinthian maid drawing her lover’s shadow—well known through Domenico Cunego’s excellent engraving. this gained for him the gold medal given by the Academy of St Luke in the year 1773 for the best specimen of historical composition. Returning from Rome in 1777, he resided for a time in London, and occupied himself in portrait-painting. In 1780 he removed to Edinburgh, where, on the death of Alexander Runciman in 1786, he was appointed director and master of the Academy of Arts. There he painted and etched in aquatint a variety of works, those by which he is best known—as the “Scotch Wedding,” the “Highland Dance,” the “Repentance Stool,” and his “Illustrations of the Gentle Shepherd”—being remarkable for their comic humour. He was called the “Scottish Hogarth”; but his drolleries hardly entitle him to this comparison. Allan died at Edinburgh on the 6th of August 1796.