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Thomas Duncan, 1807 - 1845. Artist

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Thomas Duncan, 1807 - 1845. Artist About 1844

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This calotype portrait by Hill and Adamson bears a strong resemblance to a portrait of Duncan by Robert Scott Lauder, painted around 1839. The artist Thomas Duncan was born at Kinclaven and educated at Perth Academy, together with lifelong friend David Octavius Hill. In 1827 Duncan enrolled at the Trustees’ Academy in Edinburgh, where he studied under William Allan. The following year he exhibited at the (Royal) Scottish Academy and, due to the success of his work, was elected a full member in 1829. Duncan established a significant portrait studio, but he is better known for his narrative works inspired by Scottish history and the novels of Sir Walter Scott. From 1838 until his untimely death in 1845 Duncan worked as a professor at the Trustees’ Academy.

Glossary Open


The first effective version of photography, using drawing or writing paper for both the negative and the positive. The paper was sensitised with potassium iodide and silver nitrate, exposed and developed in gallic acid and silver nitrate.

Royal Scottish Academy

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) was formed in Edinburgh in 1826 by Scottish artists who felt alienated by what they perceived as the elitism of the Royal Institution and its management of contemporary art exhibitions. In 1835, the RSA secured exhibition rights in the Royal Institution building, which had been erected on The Mound by the Board of Manufactures in 1826. The RSA and the Board frequently argued over responsibilities for advanced art education. From 1859, the RSA shared the premises of the new National Gallery of Scotland under the Board’s custody. In 1910, after transferring most of its art collections to the Gallery, the RSA gained exclusive tenancy of the former Royal Institution building, where it continues to hold large-scale annual exhibitions.

Trustees' Academy

The Trustees’ Academy was founded in Edinburgh in 1760 by the Board of Trustees for the Improvement of Fisheries and Manufactures in Scotland. This was the earliest publicly funded art school in Britain, but during the early years it was essentially an elementary drawing school dedicated to applied design. The students included practical craftsmen as well as fine artists. The school gradually developed more facilities for advanced fine art education, including a plaster cast collection. In 1826, it relocated to a new building on The Mound, which was erected by the Board. The Trustees’ Academy was reformed in 1858, using the well established government Schools of Design in London as its model, and was the direct ancestor of Edinburgh College of Art, established in 1907.

Calotype, Royal Scottish Academy, Trustees' Academy


  • Acc. No. PGP HA 795
  • Medium Calotype print
  • Size 19.60 x 14.50 cm
  • Credit Bequeathed by James Brownlee Hunter, 1928