Georgian Scottish Couple

John Donaldson


Writing in the Connoisseur in 1907, Dr George Williamson described the artist John Donaldson as ‘surely one of the oddest painters that ever lived’. From humble beginnings (his father made gloves) Donaldson drifted from painting china into portraiture winning early recognition and important prizes from the Society of Arts. After only a few years, however, he developed a fascination for chemistry and wasted his money on failed experiments. He also published a volume of poetry that also flopped. Indeed, ‘his eccentricities were most extraordinary’ and his politics most radical that he ‘made enemies in all directions’ and ‘gradually sank into deep poverty’.

And yet these finely painted portraits are testament to a true talent that, if only he hadn’t mixed business with politics but had concentrated his efforts in this direction only, would surely have guaranteed him a steady clientele and given him an excellent living.

The gentleman is wearing a striking red coat with a black velvety collar, his wig powdered, whilst his wife is more soberly dressed in white with just a touch of blue trim though it is the curled hair framing her face that draws the eye.

The portraits are presented in matching gold bracelet style frames with bright cut borders and hanging rings. One frame has been scratched and dinged on the reverse but otherwise both portraits are in fine condition.

Item Ref. 6311

Size: framed, 58 x 47mm

Provenance: D.S. Lavender in 1995 ; Valerie Eliot Collection, 2013