Completed Dress and Textiles, Portraits: British 19th C, Scotland: Artists and Subjects 7 Do you know who painted 'Portrait of an Unknown Man (said to be Alexander MacPherson, b.1794)'?

Portrait of an Unknown Man (said to be Alexander MacPherson)
Topic: Artist

This oil painting is said to depict a young man, believed to be the younger brother of George Macpherson, tacksman at Melvaig. He drowned off Red Point "within sight of his lady love". As a result there was a Gaelic song written about him entitled "Thug mi gaol do'n Fhiar Bhan", "I Loved the Fair Haired Laddie".

Gairloch Heritage Museum is interested in any information on the artist, or further details of the provenance of the painting.

Gairloch Heritage Museum, Entry reviewed by Art UK

Completed, Outcome

Alice Read,

This discussion has now been closed. No conclusion was reached. If any contributors have new information about this painting, we encourage them to propose a new discussion by following the Art Detective link on the Your Paintings page:

Thank you to all for participating in this discussion. To those viewing this discussion for the first time, please see below for all comments that led to this conclusion.


Jade Audrey King,

It was recommended this discussion was also assigned to the Dress and Textiles group (which is now is).

Are any costume historians able to advise on a possible date?

Paula Marmor,

The hairstyle, frilled shirt, white waistcoat, and the cut of the collar are consistent with a date of about 1803

Paul Kettlewell,

I think there is a doubt about the Alexander MacPherson born in 1794 at Melvaig, Gairloch dying at sea. I have attached a copy of the parish record at Gairloch of his birth, he was the son of Alexander MacPherson, tacksman and Katherine MacKenzie. Also attached is the death record in 1881 due to old age at South Gairloch of an Alexander MacPherson aged 86, his parents are given as Alexander MacPherson, crofter and Isabella MacKenzie.
His mother's first name does not match, but everything else suggests that the birth and death are the same person.

2 attachments
Barbara Bryant,

Without any comments on this portrait for some time, it may be best to wind it up. There is general agreement about the date--c.1800-10. But we are no closer to the identity of the sitter or the artist. If more information emerges, then the discussion can be reopened. I recommend that this discussion be closed.