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Sir William Quiller Orchardson, 1832 - 1910. Artist

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Sir William Quiller Orchardson, 1832 - 1910. Artist About 1863

Not on display

  • Scottish Art
Edinburgh-born William Quiller Orchardson entered the Trustees’ Academy in 1845, aged thirteen. He was immediately noted for his talent and his independence, as he allegedly refused to adhere to the custom of drawing classical statues and instead preferred to work from real-life models. He stayed on as a mature student until 1855 – the year the painter of this sketch-like portrait, his friend John Pettie, joined the Academy. In 1862, Orchardson, Pettie and Tom Graham moved to London, where they shared a home. Soon, Orchardson became a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy and his reputation was quickly established. A kind and sociable man, he became famous for his cleverly observed genre scenes of high society, often characterised by their subtle storytelling and psychological realism.

Glossary Open


A general term for art and architecture based on ancient Greek and Roman culture.


A French term that denotes different types of paintings, such as landscape, portrait or still life. The phrase ‘genre painting’ is used specifically to describe works depicting everyday scenes.

Royal Academy

An independent institution founded in 1768 with Sir Joshua Reynolds as its first president. It is governed by the Royal Academicians - leading painters, sculptors, printmakers and architects, which number no more than 80 at one time. It organises exhibitions at its London galleries, including an annual Summer Exhibition.

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.

Classicism, Genres, Royal Academy, Trustees' Academy


  • Acc. No. PG 875
  • Medium Oil on canvas
  • Size 40.60 x 35.50 cm (framed: 53.20 x 48.20 x 5.50 cm)
  • Credit Bequeathed by Lady Orchardson 1917