This important group of five ivory portraits of the Mackenzie family was made by the French Huguenot carver David Le Marchand after his arrival in Scotland in 1696.

Le Marchand went on to become a celebrated carver of royal portraits in London (he carved both Queen Anne and George I), and part of the significance of these works is that they may be the first ivories he made in Britain. Le Marchand was born in Dieppe, a major port for the ivory trade and where he learnt to carve the material. French persecution of Protestants led to his emigration, and in Edinburgh he came to the attention of Sir George Mackenzie, 1st Earl of Cromartie (1630-1714), who probably commissioned these pieces direct from the artist. Four relief portrait plaques show Sir George; his son, Sir James Mackenzie of Royston (dated 1796); his daughter in-law, Lady Margaret Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (this plaque is signed) and her son from her first marriage, George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh. The fifth carving, an exuberant miniature portrait bust, shows Sir GeorgeÂ’s heir, John Mackenzie, 2nd Earl of Cromartie. This is the masterpiece of the group and the first known example of Le MarchandÂ’s carving in the round. These superb carvings have remained in the possession of the Mackenzie family since the 17th century, belonging most recently to the present Earl of Cromartie of Castle Leod. Their outstanding Scottish provenance and place in the countryÂ’s history now make them a worthy addition to the great collections of National Museums Scotland.


Commissioned by the Mackenzie family; by descent.

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