John Brown was a Scottish physician and author, who is now mainly remembered for his two volumes of essays, ‘Horae Subsecivae’, and short story ‘Rab and His Friends’. The latter, a sad but charming tale about a gray mastiff dog and his masters, was one of the best-loved animal stories of the nineteenth century. Born in Biggar, Brown studied medicine in Edinburgh and, after graduating in 1833, he set up his practice in the city. Over the years he built up a select group of medical clientele and published a number of articles, reviews, stories and essays. Despite being prone to long attacks of depression, he had many friends including artists, writers, theologians and academics. This portrait was painted shortly before Dr Brown’s death, by his friend Sir George Reid.