A Scottish Countess

Alexander Gallaway, 1809


With a warm blush to her cheeks and her eyes averted, this alluring portrait depicts an elegant young lady richly dressed in jewel colours. Her plum dress, subtly decorated with a gold teardrop brooch, is worn under a royal blue velvet cloak trimmed with mink fur. Her hair is swept up into a knot with short curls framing her face.

The portrait is signed reverse – ‘A. Gallaway / pinxt /Edinr, Jas Square / 1809’. It was reportedly also inscribed formerly by a grandchild of the artist with the suggestion that the sitter was the Countess of Bowden though this title does not appear to exist. St James Square was built around a private garden during the 1770s and was once one of Edinburgh’s most sought-after addresses, a notable resident being the poet Robert Burns who lived there in the late 1780s.

Exceptionally well-painted and in fine condition, the portrait resides in the original gilt metal frame with convex glass and enclosed reverse.

Scottish-born, Alexander Gallaway began his career as a miniaturist in Glasgow working during the 1790s in partnership with a Mr Williams, a landscape artist. During the early 1800s he moved east to Edinburgh where he would have hoped to attract a wider and more prosperous clientele. He exhibited at the Society of Artists in Edinburgh.

Item Ref. 9053M

Size: framed, 110 x 88mm

Provenance: Bayne-Powell Collection, Sotheby's 1994 ; UK Private Collection