John Brown

Andrew Duncan, 1744 - 1828. President of the Royal Medical Society and of the Royal College of Physicians

About this artwork

Andrew Duncan is best known as a pioneer of the humane treatment of people with mental illness. It was the experience of seeing the young poet, Robert Fergusson, in great mental anguish, lying handcuffed in a cell on a bed of straw, that made Duncan determined to establish a public lunatic asylum. He obtained the charter for this and the asylum was eventually built, in Morningside, Edinburgh in 1807. Duncan helped bring about a change in the understanding of the nature of mental illness and the treatment of those affected by it. This pencil portrait captures Duncan with a slight smile, perhaps testament to his youthful nickname of the ‘smiling boy’. It is said he was known for his amicability throughout his life.

  • title:
    Andrew Duncan, 1744 - 1828. President of the Royal Medical Society and of the Royal College of Physicians
  • accession number:
    PG 3601
  • artist:
  • depicted:
  • gallery:
  • object type:
  • subject:
  • materials:
    Pencil on paper
  • date created:
    About 1780
  • measurements:
    50.30 x 36.40 cm (framed 64.77 x 48.89 cm)
  • credit line:
    Gifted by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland in 2009

John Brown

John Brown