George Jamesone: Scotland's First Portrait Painter
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George Jamesone (1589/90-1644) is a key figure in the development of portrait painting in Scotland. He was the first great native-born artist in a profession dominated by foreigners.
Born in Aberdeen, Jamesone served his apprenticeship in Edinburgh as a painter of decorative interiors before returning to his native city and setting up a studio. In Aberdeen and Edinburgh Jamesone painted people from various walks of life: aristocrats, academics, lawyers and merchants. Jamesone also completed major commissions, including an entire series of portraits of friends and family for his important patron Sir Colin Campbell, and a set of Scottish monarchs, painted for Charles I’s official entry into Edinburgh in 1633.
Jamesone’s success as a portrait painter made him wealthy – he bought houses and estates and planted a pleasure garden to the west of Aberdeen. When Jamesone died in 1644 he was widely mourned. The poet David Wedderburn wrote a Latin lament which emphasised his social and cultural achievements, describing the artist as ‘that most illustrious gentleman, George Jamesone of Aberdeen, the eminent painter’.