Lord and Lady Alva’s Georgian House: Paintings and Prints


The Alvas displayed their most important family portraits in their dining room. Most were recent – from the previous or present generations – but there was also an ‘old family’ portrait in a white frame and ‘Three old family portraits of the Marr family white frames’.[1] These must have been gifts from Lord Alva to his wife since the portraits are described as ‘belonging to Lady Alva’.[2] Other family members found on the walls of the dining room included Lord Alva’s father and mother, brother, first wife, son Charles who predeceased him, and a family painting with his first wife.[3]

Ramsay, Allan; Charles Erskine (1680-1763), Lord Tinwald, Lord Justice-Clerk; National Galleries of Scotland; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/charles-erskine-16801763-lord-tinwald-lord-justice-clerk-213095

Portrait of Lord Alva’s father, Charles Erskine (or Areskine), Lord Tinwald
Allan Ramsay,Charles Erskine (1680–1763), Lord Tinwald, Lord Justice-Clerk

The Drawing room housed ‘A family painting/a Group/ of the late Lord Alva and his family’.[4] This could be the musical conversation piece painted by David Allan in 1780. Lady Alva’s Dressing Room and the Blue Bedroom contained smaller scale family and other portraits while the ‘Dressing Room of [the] White Bed Chamber’ boasted ‘Twenty old family portraits’.[5]


Prints and drawings were displayed throughout the house. Lord Alva’s Room had a ‘print of the late President Dundas framed & glazed’ while the Dining Room, in addition to the selection of family portraits, featured ‘Two views of Gibraltar’ and ‘Four landscape paintings over the doors’.[6] (Which tells us, if nothing else, that the Dining Room had four doors.)

Prints of Abelard and Eloisa in both red and black, Lady Erskine in a black frame, a joint portrait of the Prince of Wales and his brother, a joint portrait of Robert and Thomas Drummond, a portrait of Lady Augusta Campbell, a portrait of Lord Mansfield, and a print of the death of General Wolff valued at 5 pounds and 5 shillings, were all to be found in the Parlour. There was also an otherwise undescribed ‘drawing in colours framed & gilt’ there.[7]

Lady Alva’s Dressing Room was decorated with portrait prints and drawings including celebrity portraits of Mrs Siddons – both profile and portrait – and Tippo Sultan. There was also a ‘painting for a fan’, ‘Two Drawings of Castle Howard and Companion’, and a print of ‘a Philosopher at Study’.[8]

The Blue Bed Room had four oval prints of Phyllis in gilt and black frames, a print of a Tartarian – that is – an Indian lady, and a print of St Cecilia framed and glazed as well as four landscapes in black frames and a ruin framed and glazed.[9] The Blue Room’s Closet had prints of Garrick in Richard the Third, two Madonnas, and a Cleopatra.

[1] NLS MS 5114, f. 35. Lord Alva was a cousin of the earls of Mar.
[2] NLS MS 5114, f. 35. [3] NLS MS 5114, f. 35. [4] NLS MS 5114, f. 35. [5] NLS MS 5114, f. 35v. [6] NLS MS 5114, f. 37. [7] NLS MS 5114, f. 37. [8] NLS MS 5114, f. 37v. [9] NLS MS 5114, f. 37v.

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