This painting is probably the ‘Portrait of a Gentleman’ that was exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1845. It is an early self-portrait, painted two years before Fettes Douglas abandoned a career in banking for the arts. Dark and contemplative, the artist is seated holding a large book – anticipating his future as an extremely cultured man: he became an authority on aspects of Italian art, a curator at the Scottish National Gallery, and President of the RSA. Perhaps most noted for his still lifes, he took meticulous care in depicting books, antiques and curios of which he had a fine and extensive collection. However, in later years he bacame more inspired by landscape and produced numerous watercolours, with the National Galleries of Scotland now holding a large collection.