Adrian Vanson (died c. 1602) was court portrait painter to James VI of Scotland.
Adrian succeeded Arnold Bronckorst as court painter in Scotland in May 1584, and his appointment was subsequently confirmed by royal letter on 20 August 1584. Adrian Vanson was paid £8-10s in June 1581 for two pictures sent to Theodore Beza. A letter by James VI's former tutor Peter Young accompanied pictures of John Knox and George Buchanan sent to Geneva in November 1579 for the woodcuts in Beza's Icones (1580). The Scottish portraits arrived too late for the book, and the woodcuts of Knox and a James VI, thought to be by Vanson, were first published in Simon Goulart's edition of the Icones in 1581. The picture of George Buchanan, which was never published in Beza's Icones, but may have appeared in other later works, is attributed to Bronckorst.
Knox from Beza's Icones,
after Adrian VansonVanson also painted ceremonial spears and banners for the coronation of Anne of Denmark. When he was made a burgess of Edinburgh, it was hoped he would teach his craft to apprentices. He may have been 'Lord Seton's painter', who was recorded drawing portraits for coins at the mint in Edinburgh. There was a un-named Flemish painter working on the king's portrait at Stirling Castle in May 1579. This may have been Vanson or Bronckorst. According to the inventories of the Earl of Leicester, he had a portrait of the 'young king of Scots' in 1580, which may have been another copy of this picture. Leicester sent his own portrait to James VI, painted on canvas by Hubbard in 1583.
Attributed portraits include James VI; Anne of Denmark; Patrick Lyon, Lord Glamis; Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean; Agnes Douglas, Countess of Argyll. Vanson's James VI of circa 1585 survives at Edinburgh castle. In May 1586 a French ambassador in Scotland, the Baron d'Esneval, promised to get Mary, Queen of Scots a copy of a recent portrait of James VI from the only painter in Edinburgh. There had been rumours of an embassy to Denmark to discuss the king's marriage in April 1586. It is thought the picture at Edinburgh Castle was made by Vanson for this embassy or a similar purpose.