View and zoom into this image on our new collection website
A Life Study of a Female Nude Model Seated on White Drapery

Reference URL

A Life Study of a Female Nude Model Seated on White Drapery About 1854

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
This study was made while McTaggart was a pupil at the Trustees’ Academy under the artist Robert Scott Lauder. Lauder was an innovative teacher who encouraged his students to paint from the live model, but forbade them from placing figures in imaginary settings, believing they must only paint exactly what they saw. This study demonstrates McTaggart’s skill in painting human flesh and forms. He modelled the figure with numerous delicate applications of thin paint, which contrast with the loose and sketchy treatment of the background studio and coloured draperies. McTaggart had a great ability to capture the psychological aspects of his sitters. Here the girl’s exposed, available body is contradicted by her detached, internalised gaze.

Glossary Open


This can mean the representation of three-dimensional forms in two dimensions so that they appear solid, or it can refer to the practice of creating a three-dimensional form out of a malleable substance such as wax or clay.

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.

Modelling, Trustees' Academy


  • Acc. No. NG 2639
  • Medium Oil on paper laid on board
  • Size 54.50 x 38.50 cm (framed: 61.40 x 45.30 x 2.90 cm)
  • Credit Purchased 1994