Fraser’s childhood interest in painting was nurtured by his father Alexander George Fraser, an able amateur artist, who gave him elementary tuition. He enrolled at the Trustees’ Academy in Edinburgh, supplementing his studies by attendance at the life school of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA). By the early 1850s he had abandoned Scottish genre and devoted himself exclusively to landscape. Fraser was among the first Scottish painters to work en plein air direct from nature. He was a good friend of Samuel Bough and Horatio McCulloch. After a time spent working in England, he returned to Edinburgh where he enjoyed most recognition as annual exhibitor at the RSA from 1847, and was a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Glasgow Institute of the Fine Arts from 1861 until his death in 1899.