David Martin was a major Scottish portrait painter of the 18th century who captured on paint a number of the most important men of his age.
He was born in Anstruther, Fife, Scotland on the 1st of April 1737, the son of a local schoolmaster and came to the attention of Allan Ramsay, the great Scottish portrait painter of his day. Martin joined Ramsay on the ‘Grand Tour’ in Italy in 1756
Martin worked closely with Ramsay at first but developed his own style. His most acclaimed portrait was of the Statesman and scientist, Benjamin Franklin (1767).
A number of other notable portraits included William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield and Lady Frances Chateris. He was able to experiment with different stylistic influences and to adapt these to the individual sitter.
During the 1770’s, Martin lived and worked in London and held a number of offices with the Society of Artists. He returned to Edinburgh a widower in the late 1770’s and established a thriving Business. He died on the 30th December 1797 and was buried in the Parish of Leith South.
Where to Spot a Martin:
- Scone Palace, Perth
- Paxton House, Berwickshire
- University of St Andrews
- Brodie Castle, Nairn
- National and Portrait Galleries, Edinburgh
- House of Binns, West Lothian
- and The White House, Washington DC
Thanks to Lucy Dixon and the White House Historical Association for their help with this web page.