David Allan (1744-1796)
David Allan (1744-1796)

Catechising in the Church of Scotland

David Allan (1744-1796)
Catechising in the Church of Scotland
inscribed 'Catechism/of the Church/of Scotland...' (on the pages of an open book in the hands of one of the children)
pencil and watercolour, within the artist's brown wash border
13.7/8 x 18.7/8 in. (35.4 x 48 cm.)
T. Crouther Gordon, David Allan of Alloa, 1744-1796 The Scottish Hogarth, 1951, p. 40 and 86.
The Indefatigable Mr Allan, exh. Scottish Arts Council, 1973.
The Draughtsman's Art, exh. National Gallery of Scotland, cat. p. 146, under no. 68.
Glasgow, Glasgow Museums & Art Gallery, GAGMA Exhibition, 1992.
Sale room notice
The watercolour is slightly faded overall and suffers from light foxing across the sheet.
There are one or two small areas of rubbing to the surface of the sheet.

Lot Essay

The present watercolour is thought to have been executed in 1785, as a companion piece to The Repentence Stool, a watercolour executed the previous year. The drawing is probably that originally recorded as being in the Blunt Collection (see T.Crouther Gordon op. cit. p. 40). A chalk drawing of the same composition is on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland from the Dunimarle Collection (see exh., The Draughtsman's Art , 1999, cat. p. 146, under no. 68), a copy was made by Allan in 1794 for Alexander Gordon of Stirling and a possible additional version dated 1795 was at Christie's London, 18 June 1980.

The watercolour illustrates amusing and illuminating details of the religious life in Scotland at the end of the 18th century. The scene depicts a minister questioning individual members of the congregation on the points of the faith and is thought to be set in the Abbey of Dunfermline.

Allan would make a number of versions of his major genre subjects when commissioned with minor differences in the composition. The present drawing shows the 'cutty' stool in use in Church, something not included in the chalk drawing.
A reproduction of the present watercolour can be seen in the Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.

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