Abercromby studied law at Edinburgh and Leipzig but preferred a military career, seeing his first active service during the Seven Years’ War. Whilst climbing the military ranks, in 1774 he was elected MP for Clackmannanshire, but his liberal views on the American War of Independence damaged any political prospects. Instead, the war with France gave Abercromby the chance to revive his military career, and by 1800 he was commander of Britain’s troops in the Mediterranean. With orders to expel the French from Egypt, Abercromby landed at Aboukir Bay on 8 March 1801 and led his troops to victory at the battle of Alexandria on 21 March, where he himself was fatally wounded. Both events are depicted in two paintings by De Loutherbourg, also in the National Galleries of Scotland’s collection.