David Allan painted this self-portrait during his stay in Rome from 1767 to 1777, a very successful period in his early career. He has depicted himself as a gentleman-connoisseur in a grand Roman apartment, which is unlikely to have been his actual home at the time. Porte crayon in one hand, he looks away from his drawing of the view from his window and stares at the viewer. Falling off the table is another work, a copy after Agostino Carracci’s Venus fresco in the Farnese Gallery in Rome. Here, Allan alludes to his study of old masters, something which was deemed an essential part of an artist’s education. This self-confident portrait shows the young artist already at the height of his powers and yet full of ambition.