Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jamesone, George

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JAMESONE, GEORGE (1588?–1644), portrait-painter, born at Aberdeen, probably in 1588 (Bulloch, George Jamesone, p. 32), was second son of Andrew Jamesone, master mason, and his wife Marjory, daughter of Gilbert Anderson, merchant, one of the magistrates of the city. After having practised as a portrait-painter in Scotland, he, according to a generally accepted tradition, which derives some corroborative evidence from the style of his painting, studied under Rubens in Antwerp, and was a fellow-pupil of Vandyck. Probably the pictures of the ‘Sibyls’ and the ‘Evangelists’ in King's College, Aberdeen, are copies from continental originals which he executed at this period. He is stated by Kennedy to have returned to Scotland in 1620, His portrait of Sir Paul Menezes of Kilmundie in Marischal College, Aberdeen, is dated in that year, and his bust-portrait of the first Earl of Traquair at Keith Hall is inscribed 1621. He speedily acquired a large practice as a portrait-painter, and many of the moot celebrated Scotsmen of the time were among his bitten, including James VI and Charles I, Dr. Arthur Johnston (1623), Robert Gordon of Straloch, George, fifth earl Marischal, Sir Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston, the great Marquis of Montrose, the first Marquis of Argyll, and Lady Mary Erskine, countess Marischal (1626). On 12 Nov. 1634 Jamesone married Isabel Tochr, in June 1633 he visited Edinburgh on the occasion of the coronation of Charles I, in August he was entered a burgess of that city, and shortly afterwards he started for Italy in company with Sir Colin Campbell of Glenorchy. Four religious subjects in the chapel of the Scots College, Rome, attributed to his brush, may have been produced at this period. On his return to Scotland he executed for Sir Colin many portraits of royal personages and of members of his family, both from the life and from older originals. These works are now divided between Taymouth Castle and Langton House, Duns, Berwickshire. He also executed a curious 'Genealogical Tree of the House of Glenorchy,' a work, signed and dated 1636, still preserved at Taymouth Castle, According to his correspondence with Sir Colin, now in the Taymouth charter-room, his price for bust-sized portraits was twenty merks, or with a gold frame 20l. Scots, and he engaged to turn out sixteen portraits within a period of three months. During his later years he pursued his art chiefly in Edinburgh. The latest of his dated works is an unknown portrait at Yester, Haddingtonshire, inscribed 1644; and in the latter part of that year he died, and was buried in the churchyard of Greyfriars, Edinburgh.

All Jamesone's sons predeceased him, and he is now represented only in the female line. From his second daughter, Marjory, were descended John Alexander and John Cosmo Alexander, the artists, stated by Dutloch to be her son and grandson, but more probably her grandsaon and great-grandson (see review of Brydall's 'Art in Scotland' in Academy, 38 Dec. 1880), Mary, his third daughter, married as her second husband James Gregory (1638–1675) [q. v.]. her second cousin.

Portraits attributed to Jamesone are in the possession of nearly all the old families of Scotland, but only a small proportion of these bear the characteristics of his work. His genuine productions are rather thinly and delicately painted and show various recurrent mannerisms, such as a tendency to portray the sitters with curiously elongated noses drooping at the end, narrow faces with pointed china, and sloping shoulders.

Portraits of Jamesone, by his own hand, are in the possession of the Earl of Seafield, Cullen House; and Major John Ross, Aberdeen. At Fyvie Casllo, Aberdeenshire, there is a family group of the artist with his wife and child. This was engraved by A. W. Warner for Walpole's 'Anecdotes,' ed. Wornum

[Bulloch's George Jamesone, (1835); Catalogues of Edinburgh Loan Exhibitions, 1883–84: Pennaut's Tour in Scotland, ed. 1773; Walpole's Anecdotes, ed. Wornom; and on examination of Jamesone's works in Scottish collections.]

J. M. G.