Artist and portrait painter. Born in Alloa, the son of a shore-master, Allan studied at Robert Foulis' (1707-76) Art Academy in Glasgow and then in Rome. He spent time in London before settling in Edinburgh, becoming Director of the Edinburgh Academy of Arts (1786). In addition to his portraits, Allan provided illustrations for Alan Ramsay's (1681 - 1758) The Gentle Shepherd and for some of the poems of Robert Burns (1759-96), including engravings of 'Tam o' Shanter' and 'The Cotter's Saturday Night'. He was also noted as a painter of Scottish subjects, including works such as Highland Dance.
Allan is buried in the Old Calton Cemetery in Edinburgh.