James Drummond

Scottish (1816 - 1877)
James Drummond The Porteous Mob 1855

Biography

Born 1816
Died 1877
Nationality Scottish
Birth place Edinburgh
Death place Edinburgh

Drummond was a history and genre painter, draughtsman and antiquary. His fascination with the history, antiquities and traditions of Edinburgh was first stimulated by his family’s occupancy of the Netherbow tenement which had been known since the eighteenth century as John Knox’s House. His training at the Trustees’ Academy under William Allan and Thomas Duncan (1832-36) shaped his own working methods, each history painting being carefully researched from original or published sources and composed with the aid of meticulous preparatory studies of costumed figures and architectural settings. Most of Drummond’s evocative drawings of the vanishing mediaeval buildings of the city in the 1840s and 1850s were published after his death, with descriptive letterpress in Old Edinburgh (1879). The original drawings were bequeathed to the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland of which he had been a member since 1848 and eventual curator of its museum. In his passion for historical authenticity he also assembled a vast collection of European and Oriental antiquities, jewellery, costume, arms and armour. His artistic lineage from Allan was apparent in the many illustrations of Scottish history and literature which he exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy from 1842 to 1876. Unstinting in his dedication to the Academy, he was elected Academician in 1852 and appointed curator of the National Galleries of Scotland in 1868.

Glossary terms

  • A term used to refer to images of important or memorable episodes from literary, historical or religious sources. These works are often large-scale and include complex arrangements of figures and objects in a landscape or architectural setting. Historically, it was revered as the highest form of painting.