The sitter was the son of Charles Ogilvie (1733-1788) of South Carolina and St. Clement Danes, London, and Mary, daughter of the Hon. James Michie, Chief Justice of South Carolina. Charles Ogilvie was the seventh son of James Ogilvie (1682-1741) of Auchiries in the parish of Rathen, Aberdeen. John Alexander Ogilvie owned plantations called Richfield and Mount Pleasant in Prince William Parish, South Carolina, and also Danbury Place, Essex in 1797, and subsequently Tankhurst Park at Wootton in Surrey. He married in 1790 Elizabeth Mary, daughter of Spencer Man of South Carolina. His first cousin George Ogilvie (1748-1801) emigrated to South Carolina in 1744 but lost his property in America as a Loyalist and returned to Scotland.
Seen no more than a handful of times in over two centuries, this portrait is likely to date stylistically to the second half of the 1790s; the powdered hair suggests a date not much later than 1795. Raeburn was based at his George Street studio during this period. It was a time of extraordinary variation and constant experimentation and resulted in a stream of highly individual portraits, including George Abercrombie of Tullibody (private collection, USA); Captain Robery Hay of Spot (Louvre, Paris); Sir John and Lady Clerk of Penicuik (National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin); and John Johnstone of Alva with his sister and niece (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC) (Mackie, op.cit, nos. 2, 381, 158 and 437).
We are grateful to David Mackie (St. Catharine's College, Cambridge), for his assistance in preparing this catalogue entry.