Fanny McIan was born in Bath, England, and is best known for her depictions of Scottish landscapes, and her promotion of women's art education. She eloped to London at the age of 17 with Scottish actor and artist Robert McIan. Making a name for themselves in the Scottish community in London, Fanny painted historical Scottish scenes and created popular prints of the Scottish highlands. In 1842 Fanny was appointed the first Superintendent of London's Female School of Design. During her time at the school she encouraged fine art practise alongside design, which went against the school's mission leading to her termination in 1857. Her work was widely exhibited across the UK including at the Royal Society of British Artists and the British Institution. In 1854 she was the second woman to ever be elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Scottish Academy.