Scottish scenes and Scottish story : the later career of David Allan, historical painter
David Allan's artistic career may be divided into two major periods. Having first attended the Foulis Academy, he spent at least a decade in Italy, finally returning to Scotland in 1779, his home for the next seventeen years. The pictures which he executed during this second period form the basis of the present study. Since the emphasis of this study is thematic rather than biographical, some distortion of chronology is inevitable, though it is not uncomfortably obvious. At the same time, some element of biography is indispensable. This is particuarly true of the first chapter, a necessary setting of the scene which highlights Allan's training in the arts, his collection of prints, copies, original drawings and plaster casts, and the most important works from his years abroad. That part of this biographical account which deals with his Scottish career is devoted largely to Allan's work as Master of the Trustees' Academy, since the pictures with which he was occupied at this time - portraits, Conversation pieces, literary illustrations, Historical paintings and Genre scenes - are taken in groups and discussed in greater depth in the chapters which follow. Before the first chapter concerned with Allan's work in any of these genres, however, there stands a chapter dealing with the wider context of narrative painting in Britain at the time and introducing a number of themes traced throughout later chapters, where they are more fully and particularly discussed.