John Watson Gordon

John Watson Gordon

John Watson Gordon

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Sir John Watson Gordon (1788 - 1 June 1864) was a Scottish portrait painter and a president of the Royal Scottish Academy.

Life and work

He was born John Watson in Edinburgh, the eldest son of Captain Watson, R.N., a cadet of the family of Watson of Overmains, in the county of Berwick. He was educated specially with a view to joining the Royal Engineers. He entered as a student in the government school of design, under the management of the Board of Manufactures. he showed a natural aptitude for art, and his father was persuaded to allow him to adopt it as his profession. Captain Watson was himself a skilful draughtsman, and his brother George Watson, afterwards president of the Royal Scottish Academy, was a highly-respected portrait painter, second only to Sir Henry Raeburn, who was also a friend of the family.

In 1808 John exhibited a picture "The Lay of the Last Minstrel" at the Lyceum in Nicolson Street, Edinburgh - the first public exhibition of paintings in that city - and continued for some years to exhibit fancy subjects; but, although freely and sweetly painted, they were altogether without the force and character which stamped his portrait pictures as the works of a master. After the death of Sir Henry Raeburn in 1823, he succeeded to much of his practice. He assumed in 1826 the name of Gordon.

One of the earliest of his famous sitters was Sir Walter Scott, who sat for a first portrait in 1820. Then came JG Lockhart in 1821; Professor Wilson, 1822 and...
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