Dr. Caroline Rae of London’s prestigious Courtauld Institute of Art was conducting research into a 16th-century portrait by Adrian Vanson. It was a painting of a notable Scottish figure, Lord Chancellor Sir John Maitland. One of the techniques Rae used involved advanced x-ray technology. And what she found under the painting of Maitland has astonished the art world.
Adrian Vanson, whose work is seen here in this 1585 portrait of the Scottish king James VI, was probably born in modern-day Holland. Vanson was appointed King’s Painter in 1584, with an annual payment of £100, a handsome sum at the time. In this role, he went on to paint many members of the Scottish aristocracy.
The influence of the Italian Renaissance had spread to Scotland in the 15th century, with the help of Dutch painters who were active in the country at the time. And by the mid-16th century, portrait painting in particular had become popular among the wealthy and powerful in Scottish society. This portrait of Agnes Douglas from 1599 is another of Vanson’s works.