James Erskine was the eldest son of John Erskine, Lord High Treasurer of Scotland. Sometime before 1617 he married Mary Douglas, Countess of Buchan, and assumed the title of Earl of Buchan. Like his father, James lived at court in London. He became a Lord of the Bedchamber to Charles I, a position in the royal household held by around twelve noblemen who would attend to the monarch in turn for a week at a time. Duties included assisting the king when dressing, waiting on him when eating in private and guarding access to his private quarters. This portrait shows the Earl of Buchan in fashionable court dress, wearing a winged gold doublet that is sewn with braid, and a ruff edged with fine lace.