About this artwork

This was painted in Rome at a time when the discovery of lost, ancient Graeco-Roman sculptures and mural paintings was exciting great interest in the artistic world. Greek or Roman subject matter was adopted by many artists. Here, Allan has chosen to illustrate a charming anecdote by the ancient Roman author Pliny, claiming that the art of painting had first been invented by a Corinthian girl who traced the outline of her lover's shadow on the wall before he went into battle.

Updated before 2020

  • artist:
  • title:
    The Origin of Painting ('The Maid of Corinth')
  • date created:
    Dated 1775 (on the back)
  • materials:
    Oil on panel
  • measurements:
    Oval: 38.70 x 31.00 cm (framed: 51.20 x 44.00 x 6.60 cm)
  • object type:
  • credit line:
    Presented by Mrs Byres of Tonley 1875
  • accession number:
    NG 612
  • gallery:
  • subject:
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David Allan

David Allan