George Jamesone: Scotland’s First Portrait Painter





In today’s frenetic world we have come a long way since the first portrait ever used as possible propaganda and advertising …or have we?

The first in my research led me to Scotland and the portrait gallery.

George Jamesone:  Scotland’s First Portrait Painter


George Jamesone (1589/90-1644) is a key figure in the development of portrait painting in Scotland.  He was the first great native-born artist in a profession dominated by foreigners.

He was born in Aberdeen and served as an apprentice in Edinburgh as a painter of interiors. He painted people from all works of life. He painted merchants, academics, lawyers and even merchants. He was commissioned to paint for friend and family alike.

He made good money and was a very successful painter.  On his death the poet David Wedderburn wrote in Latin a lament which emphasized his social standing in society and his achievements  describing the artist as ‘that most illustrious gentleman, George Jamesone of Aberdeen, the eminent painter’.

George Jamesone, 1589 / 1590 – 1644.


In this painting self-portrait he is using his skill to demonstrate his ability in the form of a painting. In the background he shows off previous work on a cross range of portraits and sea scapes. He shows himself as proud and confident. An early form of advertising.   

He is advertising his skills in the background he shows off his portraits as well sea- scapes.

By painting the portrait of King Charles it has been said that the king was so pleased with the result that he gave Jamesone a ring off his own finger as a reward.[6]

Many of the gentry were so impressed by his references and name he was commissioned and met the demands of his hundreds of patrons. 


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