Drummond was an accomplished artist and antiquarian, who specialised in Scottish history paintings. He studied at the Trustees' Academy in Edinburgh and made many fine drawings, reflecting his interests in arms, armour and architecture. He supported the preservation of Edinburgh's historic buildings, which often feature in his paintings. Drummond researched his subjects thoroughly and planned his compositions along strict academic lines. Detailed drawings of individual figures, figure groups and compositional sketches, in pencil and watercolour, preceded his final painting. Drummond was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1852 and became curator of the National Gallery of Scotland in 1868.