This portrait miniature by the renowned eighteenth century miniaturist, Richard Cosway, probably depicts Sir Alexander Maitland, head of the Maitland (later Ramsay-Gibson-Maitland) Baronetcy. During his outstanding military career Alexander progressed through the ranks taking the titles of Colonel (1762), Major General (1772), Lieutenant General (1777) and General (1793). Despite his decorated success, little is known of Alexander’s personal life.

Sir Alexander Maitland was awarded the title 1st Baronet of Clifton in the County of Midlothian (Scotland) in November 1818. This title remains extant but unclaimed. Mystery shrouds Alexander as he is the only Maitland brother not to be recorded in the National Records of Scotland and very few images of Alexander remain in circulation. Sir Joshua Reynolds painted Alexander Maitland in 1761, seven years after his marriage to Penelope Madan in 1754. Alexander and Penelope had six children together: four sons and two daughters.

The present Cosway portrait appears to imagine Alexander in peerage robes, however there...

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This portrait miniature by the renowned eighteenth century miniaturist, Richard Cosway, probably depicts Sir Alexander Maitland, head of the Maitland (later Ramsay-Gibson-Maitland) Baronetcy. During his outstanding military career Alexander progressed through the ranks taking the titles of Colonel (1762), Major General (1772), Lieutenant General (1777) and General (1793). Despite his decorated success, little is known of Alexander’s personal life.

Sir Alexander Maitland was awarded the title 1st Baronet of Clifton in the County of Midlothian (Scotland) in November 1818. This title remains extant but unclaimed. Mystery shrouds Alexander as he is the only Maitland brother not to be recorded in the National Records of Scotland and very few images of Alexander remain in circulation. Sir Joshua Reynolds painted Alexander Maitland in 1761, seven years after his marriage to Penelope Madan in 1754. Alexander and Penelope had six children together: four sons and two daughters.

The present Cosway portrait appears to imagine Alexander in peerage robes, however there is scant evidence that Alexander ever sat in the House of Lords. Fifth son of Charles Maitland, 6th Earl of Lauderdale, and Lady Elizabeth Ogilvy, daughter of the Earl of Seaford (last Lord Chancellor of Scotland), Alexander was not eligible to sit in the House of Lords through writ of accession. Furthermore, the House of Lords contains no record of Sir Alexander Maitland sitting in the House of Lords prior to his death in 1820. His second son (and fourth child), Alexander Charles Gibson-Maitland, did, however, sit in the House of Lords. This portrait shines a light on an elusive figure whose contemporary prominence caught the attention of portraitists such as Cosway and Reynolds, yet whose achievements and renown have since been clouded by history.

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500 Years of British Art